Saturday, July 09, 2005


I've spent part of the day choosing and inputting entries for the Florida State Poets Association's annual anthology. Each FSPA member can submit up to three poems, one of which appears in the book. After producing the collection for two years, this is the first year I'm editing it as well.

My mother's poetry appeared in the FSPA's first anthology the year she died; this year's volume will be the 23rd. In the time between her retirement in 1980 and her death in 1982 she wrote more than a dozen short stories and over 100 poems, including humorous deathbed couplets and quatrains. And that's what I had known about. We had enjoyed a newfound camaraderie once she had resumed her own creative writing, exchanging drafts and sharing news of rejections and acceptances alike.

She had written poetry and fiction before she married; afterwards her output had screeched to a halt. It took me years to realize how painful that must have been for her -- that there may have been a reason, other than her concern for my school grades, why I had been "limited" to no more than one hour of creative writing a day while I lived at home. (I merely waited until my parents had gone to bed, then fished my flashlight and notebook out from under the covers. My grades remained high and no one was the wiser.)

Once she retired her creative dam burst wide open. She was already in poor health and probably aware on some level that she was running out of time. I have since discovered and am still discovering drafts she hadn't sent me, materials she was still working on.

On a certain level I can identify. In the almost 2-1/2 years since I've moved here I've finished the draft of one novel (begun while I was working multiple shifts; it's in need of a major rewrite) and added to that a trilogy (out to market), a short story (ditto), dozens of poems (including those out to market, out to contests, and published), and over a dozen articles (most published in the local paper); and I'm currently drafting another novel, all in addition to my corporate writing. My drought had not been as long as my mother's and my health is fine (I wonder what she would have accomplished had she the stamina), but I know what it's like to have that dam burst and let the floodwaters carry me away.

I'm riding the rapids now. Living with a vengeance.


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