Thursday, June 18, 2009

A couple of shorties

So, whenever I'm frustrated at the keyboard - which is, of course, often enough - or inspired or frankly, in need of cash, I start work on a short essay. I love the form, how it forces you to condense your thoughts, to hoard your words, and mostly to get to the damned point. Sometimes these shorties (usually around 900 words) start out as much longer pieces, five or six times as long. Sometimes they just come out in a mad rush.

One downside to the process is that by the time I've condensed my thoughts and sent the essay off, and then, maybe, it gets published, a whole lot of time has passed. Such was the case with this one, which I wrote a year or so ago when our dear friend Wally was just beginning to seem sick. Wally died three weeks before it came out. Which is starting to seem like a disturbing pattern, since the short essay I wrote about our cat Daisy last year ended up coming out the week she died. Maybe I need to write on a lighter subject. Anyhow, if writers got to dedicate little 900 word ditties, this one would be for Wally ... and for Mike and Nancy Barnhart who took such good care of him toward the end of his life.

"Natural Comfort"

This next one started out much longer, and the long version gives more credit where credit is due to our local volunteer fire chief, Bob Nielsen, who had the idea for the weekly work parties and who has been the driving force behind them. So this one's for Bob ... and for the regular Monday night gang.

"Just Right Here"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Test Ride wins River Teeth contest

My book Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter's Civil Rights Journey was named 2009 winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Contest. The book will come out next year from University of Nebraska Press.

The book honors my father and others that acted courageously during the 1956 Tallahassee bus boycott and also my mother who has shown remarkable courage in her long battle with cancer. The fact that she -- along with several of the "foot soldiers" from the Tallahassee movement -- will be able to read the book is a prize in itself, one that's both humbling and gratifying.