Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Friday, July 20, 2012

You Know It Don't Come Easy: Writing the Hard Stuff

For several years I've enjoyed writing about the lighter side of my life...the funny or inspirational incidents, usually involving family members, pets, and friends. But when I started to near the three quarters of a century mark, my own personal diamond jubilee, I reflected on telling those other stories. Go deeper, my inner voice urged.

I started a few years back with "Dreaming as the Summers Die," about the last time I saw my birth mom. "Not suited for our audience," said most of the traditional anthology publishers. When I read the rejections I nearly could feel the distaste, the pulling back, and I envisioned how I'd spoiled some editor's morning. Even a friend or two who read my story suggested I should concentrate on more cheerful topics, and that perhaps I'd better get over something that happened all those decades ago.

But I persevered and resubmitted. I wanted to see this story in print. It finally found a home in Dream of Things' debut anthology collection, Saying Goodbye. An online magazine, The Fertile Source, also printed it, and Five Minutes More picked it up here: Additionally the story will appear this fall in Joy, Interrupted, from Fat Daddy's Farm. How encouraging to find that not every publisher shies away from more meditative pieces.

I continued with "A Ruffled Mind," about what it was like to be six years old and scared witless by crossing the street or going to the playground. This story appeared this past spring in Anxiety Disorders: True Stories of Survival by Hidden Thoughts Press.

Soon I found that I'd wake up at 2 a.m., wondering how I'd gather the courage to put other intrusive thoughts and feelings on paper. Did I really want anybody to know why I held on to a hopeless love for years and years? Did I really want anybody to know how diminished I felt when my tiny little adoptive mom called me an elephant? What about those feelings of resentment during my late husband's last weeks? Shouldn't I be ashamed? Filled with guilt?

Maybe there's others who've shared those experiences, I decided. So I bit the bullet, and wrote those stories, too. And now they're seeing publication.

"Needs" will appear soon in Jonna Ivin's book, Loving for Crumbs, "Elephants Never Forget" in Virgie Tovar's Seal Press publication, Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion, and "Wheels and Deals" in Hidden Thoughts Press, It's Weighing on Your Mind.

I don't dwell on the dark side a hundred percent of the time, though. Today I plan to write a story intended to elicit squeals of delight...but, hey,  it don't come easy. 


  1. hoorya for you, Terri. I felt the same way writing poems about my late parents and my childhood for lit mags, but truth be told affects others.

  2. Terri--Humorous stories are good for the soul, because they provide laughter in our lives. However, the stories that stick with me forever are the stories that give me a person's story in an unflinching manner. That certainly does not mean the character or writer has to wallow in self-pity.

    Just the truth...because we CAN handle the truth.