Monday, May 21, 2012

Who would've thought after all these years...

            Have I got a story for you? Why, yes, yes, I do.
            I found a high school classmate at Facebook. Diane Taylor and I (Cathy Thomas back then), shared a locker our freshman and sophomore years. Diane enjoyed reading historical novels, as I recall. I read any work of fiction I could get my hands on, many from the list of recommended literature for the college preparatory classes—which I wasn’t assigned to. (I don’t know why I wasn’t.)
            Anyway, when we graduated from high school, I lost contact with many of my classmates, including Diane. A few weeks ago I found her on a friend’s FB page. I followed the link, requested her as a friend and discovered she lives in Sarasota, Florida, is a retired elementary school principal and is widowed. She also has just published her first work of fiction and is doing interviews and booksignings. She has a booksigning in Kent, Ohio on June 2. I’d like to go, plunk down my money, get an autographed copy of her book to add to my collection of autographed books and talk shop with her.
            Oh, yeah. I haven’t told her of my writing interests that are so similar to hers: women’s literature, romance and spirituality. How about THAT for the DAHS Class of 1971? You can read about Diane at
            Congrats, Diane Adams Taylor!  I’m thrilled for you and can’t wait for my turn!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I won't back down

When do you have enough education? I've never perceived myself as a "perpetual" student. Well, I'm always learning something new. But actually getting in the car, driving to the campus and attending classes with all those "younger" folks?

I hate being a late-bloomer. It’s not that I’m slow. It’s that there are so many roses along the way! (You know…stop and smell the roses?)

When I was 26 I had a midlife crisis. At 27 I told myself I could continue as we were or I could make a difference. At 28 I was accepted to Kent State University. My desire was to write fiction, but everyone told me I needed a Plan B to get me through life until Plan A happened.

It wasn’t easy studying for 12 credit hours of classes (for every hour of class you need two hours of study time;) taking care of two young daughters (6 and 3-1/2) and our home, and be a wife, daughter, sister… As I arrived at one hour short of senior standing as an elementary education major, I withdrew from classes for a multiple pregnancy requiring complete bed rest.

Over the years I contemplated returning to Kent State to finish that bachelor degree. But I had stumbled into journalism and was making a paycheck doing what I’d wanted all along: writing. I covered meetings, observed people…Village Council, Board of Education, Board of Public Affairs…events like Martin Sheen’s arrest for an act of civil disobedience when he climbed over a fence at the Port Authority in East Liverpool, Ohio in protest of the hazardous waste incinerator that was forced in over public protest and still sits at the East End of the city on the Ohio River. I wrote feature stories—my favorites. I honed my writing skills. And at the end of the day when I went back home I wrote some more, my “stuff.”

In 2007, because my elderly parents wanted me to go back and finish what I had started so long ago—and knowing that my children and grandchildren needed to know I meant it when I said you finish what you start—I resumed my studies, this time as an English Major. Dr. Swartz tacked on the Writing Minor. Really? Yes, she answered. Then she pushed me on in to the Honors College. Seriously? I asked. Why? “Because you belong there.”

I did three years work in two. I graduated with departmental honors and distinction in English. I successfully wrote and defended an honors thesis: writing a novel. Dad died six weeks before I walked up to that podium to claim my BA. But Mom was there, even though she never remembered the day. (That would be the Alzheimer’s.)

Dr. Swartz wasn’t going to let me stop there. She urged me to go to grad school: Master’s in Fine Arts—Creative Writing. I didn’t begin it because my mother, with Alzheimer’s and unable to take care of herself, needed me. She passed away in 2011. And I began to plan my return to the university scene.

Hey! Nobel in Literature! I’ve got my eyes on you. I’ve been approved for admission at the School of Graduate Studies and Research of Youngstown State University. I’m not going to back down, not going to quit, until I have you in my hands! The world is my oyster!

In the meantime, I’m working on that body of works required for a Nobel in Literature. And I’m about to prove that good things DO come from my little town.

(c)2012 Cathy Thomas Brownfield ~ All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red Letter Days

It's turning into a red letter day. A broken romance in the family. A change in the way my publicist wages are paid so there is no direct deposit today. A disagreement with my spouse that caused him to storm out of the room threatening to pack his belongings and leave. And me yelling after him, "Do what you feel you have to do!" All within less than a 2-hour time span. Gee. I wonder what other good things are headed my way today? What happened to the biorhythms all of a sudden?

Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it? Right now I want to scream. It wouldn't do any good. Why can't things operate smoothly around here? It might be better to put all of that pent-up emotion into one of my stories.

Last week a friend of mine (she also was my English prof and thesis project director), sent me a short story she wrote for a class. It was humorous and she thought I needed a good chuckle. I read the story. I did chuckle. And it reminded me of some things from my life. Then, on Saturday morning, I wrote a short story. A sweet romance of about 1,505 words for a market that pays $20 for romance up to 1,500 words. (Would you say I'm pushing my boundaries a bit?) I sent it to my friend who said, "I hope you're going to submit this." The next email from her was a link to a contest that awards $1,000 to the first place winner, among other things. So, I am submitting that short story to that market.

Since Saturday I have been writing short stories based on writer experiences in life. Awesome! I HOPE I'm on a roll because it sure would be a good thing right now.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Obstacles? Or challenges?

Things just seem to get in the way of progress, making the way foggy, unclear. When I fall into that rut, it's just easier to walk away, look at it again tomorrow...maybe. THAT is procrastination!

"Resistance," writes Victoria Lyn Schmidt in her Book in a Month, "is the way your subconscious tries to protect you from taking risks."

Is that what I'm doing?

Some years ago there were mounting obstacles on the home front. Obstacles have a way of bogging you down, sapping your strength, overwhelming you, and removing all the wind from your sails, casting you into "the doldrums." You land in a stagnant place, confused, crippled, dead in the water, accomplishing nothing.

Yet, when I visited with a particular person (I could start out grumbling, miserable and unhappy, perhaps angry) but when I walked away from him, my energy level was restored, my spirits were boosted, and those obstacles were gone, transformed into challenges. And who isn't up for good challenges?

When I become distracted I start negative self-talk and nothing gets accomplished, except for me to run myself down because I spent an entire afternoon playing at writing instead of getting down to business. And I didn't get down to business because every time I started to do that I was interrupted by something "important" to someone else. (My first priority always has been family.) When nothing gets accomplished the threads of the story are lost, and discouragement leads to some other less mind-demanding activity with a more imminently achievable completion time.

But what about that desire to write your stories? Your brain children? The work you really need to do in order to feel the confidence and worth of your works from your soul's depths? Is there anything more important than that at the moment you are working and interruption tempts you?

(c)2012 Cathy Thomas Brownfield ~ All rights reserved.