My Habits of Being
In 1979 I discovered that writing, because it gives form to disorder, might keep me moderately sane. I mailed my first ever attempt to Redbook for their Young Mother’s column. In return, I received 500 hundred dollars for two hours of work. Never earned that kind of money again! Forget about fame and fortune. Why write? Seven reasons come to mind. To make connections, become a better reader, gain focus in a frenzied, electronic world, engage language more deeply, effect change in oneself, make sense of life, and leave a legacy. An eighth for the aging population: to fight decrepitude!
I offer editing services through Crosshill Creek Publications, my new LLC. I’m a better editor than writer. Back in 1979 my editor was not a friend. Too ruthless and critical. A writer needs to be two persons in one. Eventually, my editor, who knows more than the writer, became a friend. Economy, simplicity, clarity: three hallmarks of good prose, which I show writers how to achieve. And I bring to editing a long apprenticeship with the finest of writers, Wayne Johnson, a Stegner fellow, and Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate.
I began teaching English literature and writing in 1967. I’m still doing it. After twelve years as a secondary teacher in California, I moved to the college & university level, and taught in foreign countries, plus the USA. Since 2005 I’ve been an instructor for a Virginia community college’s adult program. Twice a year I offer literature classes on writers I love. Best of all, I don’t have to give grades. My courses in spring 2022 will be a second one on the late British writer, Penelope Fitzgerald. The other class will study and discuss George Saunders' recent, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, "in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life." In this class, I will facilitate while Saunders guides us to a better understanding of masterful short stories. Anton Chekhov is my literary hero; and three of his stories are in the book, along with ones by Gogol, Tolstoy, and Turgenev.
From 2012 to 2017, I won so many awards in the Soul-Making Keats literary competition that I was asked to replace a judge who was leaving. Now, I have the Creative Nonfiction category, one of twelve. The contest's deadline each year is November 30th. Poet John Keats' words are the theme: “Some say the world is a vale of tears—I say it is a place of soul-making.”
For information go to www.soulmakingcontest.us.