I wished my nephew Happy Birthday this morning and realized that we (the world) are already into the second month of 2018, and I haven't even said goodbye to 2017. Bad manners, to say the least. It was a good year - one in which I travelled and worked on my craft. Last summer, I spent time at the Library of Congress, researching my project on Louisiana's past. Back at home, I worked on new stories for my second collection of stories, and I revised my memoir (a collection of essays about the small town where I grew up). In October, I was at the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium, at The W's (MUW) campus in Columbus, Mississippi. Our group of writers was highlighted by Daniel Wallace, who is just as humorous in real life, by the way, as is his work. I was so pleased to share the event with so many great writers and poets: Beth Ann Fennelly, Michael Farris Smith, Rodney Jones, James E. Cherry, Jacqueline Allen Trimble, Mary Miller, Carter Dalton Lyon, Catherine Pierce, Steve Yates, Derrick Harriell, and of course our great leader and director of the Welty Symposium, Kendall Dunkelberg. How amazing to be introduced and reminded of so many great writers and their work. I will especially mention Carter Dalton Lyon's powerful book, Sanctuaries of Segregation: The Story of the Jackson Church Visit Campaign since it's Black History Month. He has researched a segment of the Civil Rights Era that is seldom mentioned or considered. Perhaps the most fun that weekend was meeting MUW's Creative Writing students, who had read all our work prior to the symposium. Their questions were so thoughtful - I certainly won't forget the care and attention they gave my stories.
I also travelled back to Spalding University to attend a novel workshop, led by the incomparable Rachel Harper. While there, I was able to wish our beloved leader Sena Jeter Naslund a very happy retirement. Lots of tears and joy (of Sena's achievements), but no doubts that the program will continue to be successful. I learned a great deal about writing novels during that workshop, especially how to organize such a great undertaking. I embraced the challenge of shifting from short stories to the novel; it's pretty much the same writing, only now I can take my time developing the characters I present. Their lives can go on and on, ha. I chuckle because quite often people say to me (after they've read one of my stories), "Why did you stop? I wanted the story to go on. What's going to happen to them?" Finally, the story will go on.
Okay, that's it for now. I will say, as the French say, Je n'en ai pas pour longtemps. I hope that, indeed, I will not be long in posting again. Please check in periodically for news of my projects.