Girl Talk, Writers and Writing

A Writer’s Writer – Carson McCullers

She was a rock star.  Her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, brought her critical acclaim at the age of twenty-three and she made her mark on the literary scene of the 1940’s and ‘50’s at a time when the field was still overwhelmingly dominated by men.  Her body of work hauntingly echoed the themes of loneliness, unrequited love, and being different.  A southern gothic writer, she railed against racism and homophobia – and her message still resonates today.  Her name was Carson McCullers.

While living in a Brooklyn brownstone called “February House” with a menagerie of other writers and artists, she wrote The Member of the Wedding.  When she was in residence at Yaddo Artists’ Colony, she penned The Ballad of the Sad Café.  Later, as her health was failing, her home was a Victorian with a wrap-around porch and a view of the Hudson River, not far from where I grew up.  Each time I passed by that house, I imagined Carson, decades earlier, sitting on her porch, peering from her window as she sat at her typewriter, perhaps walking down South Broadway in the mornings.

When I came upon a grainy, 1958 recording of her reading from her work, I was awestruck.  There was a fragility in her voice, which quivered, as though she were about to cry.  That shakiness, along with her thick Georgia accent, conjured in my mind an elderly southern lady rather than a woman who, at the time, was only forty-one-years-old.

Carson McCullers left us a beautiful literary legacy.  Whether you’re looking for a thought-provoking book for yourself, or a good-read for your book group, her prose is lovely and her message will surely ignite great discussion.

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Life Lessons, Writers and Writing

New Year, New Plan

writing_2017As I watched the ball drop in Times Square, I thought about New Year’s resolutions.  Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of absolutes.  Like giving up carbs.  Who cuts out a whole food group, cold turkey?  Or vowing to work out five days a week.  Does walking to the bus stop count?

Still, as confetti fell all over 44th and Broadway, I got the same start-over-fresh feeling I had every September when the new school year began.  New notebooks, new pencils… only now I use a keyboard.

It’s been one year since I started my blog, Dolce Zitella.  And as the New Year begins, it’s the perfect time to thank everyone who’s read the weekly blog posts, responded with comments, and recommended the blog to friends.  I truly appreciate your support.

For me, Dolce Zitella has been fun – like having a marathon conversation with the girls.  In contrast, the non-fiction book I’ve been working on for the past several years has been a solitary labor of love.  The subject matter is deeply personal to me, and I’m pretty damn passionate about it.

But here’s the rub – like many of you, my work life is demanding and working late has become the norm.  Every night I work late is a night I don’t get to write.  Between getting home late, keeping up with the blog, and attending to the myriad of things that make up the everyday, carving out enough time to work on the book has been challenging.

Finishing the book in 2017 is not a New Year’s resolution.  It’s my goal.  And with any goal, you need a plan.  So here goes: moving forward, I’ll be writing a new blog post every other week, rather than weekly, so I can devote more time to the book.  Dolce Zitella will still be posted on Thursdays.  I know I can count on all of you to stick with me on this.

And what’s the book about, you may wonder?  Well, that’s another story for another day.

red poppy

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