Want to Know a Secret?

By Anne K. Kaler

“I’d tell you my secrets but then I’d have to kill you.”

                While the above may be a hackneyed phrase from a spy novel, I’ve discovered a sneaky way to reveal secrets while avoiding the “killing” part. My secret about secrets – write them out in fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry.

Take fiction, for example.  Writing your secret is easy when you can disguise it as your creative imagination or sudden insight into the nature of a character.  Who among us is going to challenge you when your writing seems to dwell on mass murders, global epidemics, or the loss of chocolate in the world?  Other writers enjoy your fantasies and think them clever.  They may even envy you without recognizing your secret any more than their readers recognize their own well-kept secrets.

Pshaw! Under every tale lies a truth which the writer has experienced or, at least, hoped to experience  –  some lesson learned the hard way, some  humiliating moment, some sly wished-for revenge.  Writers have long claimed innocence by burying the body of a secret in their story plots. Think about that.

Such disposal of secrets, however well hidden, can be excavated later by literary researchers in the biography of an author.  Non-fiction can also be a fertile burying ground for the secrets of others to be exhumed and exposed to a secret-loving audience.  It is much easier to see flaws in others than we can admit to in our own lives. Shakespeare saw this in Mark Anthony’s response to Caesar’s death –

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

 – Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2

 

Because poetry lays bare the bones of human frailty, good poetry, perhaps, is the truest guide to revealing private secrets.  In its simplicity, the poetic impulse brushes aside fiction’s feeble disguises to lament the inadequacy of mere words to express the weight of secrets.

Poetry best unveils the suffering human soul.  When poetry is added to music, the intensity of emotion felt is increased.  For an example, read Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” and then listen to it put to music.  Or read the Psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd” and then listen to a choir sing one of its musical versions.  Notice the different intensities.

Still, some secrets lie too deep in our hearts and brains ever to be shared.  Those are best recorded in journals which remain private.  Remember the fable of the man who was told a secret by his king but was forbidden to reveal it.  He had to run out into the garden, dig a hole, and shout the secret down into the earth, lest he let it slip through his lips.

Use your good judgment with your secrets in journals and diaries. Arrange to have your journals burnt upon your death.  Do not, as happened to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, have your secret poems buried with you, only to have your husband dig up your grave to retrieve them.  Too gauche and Victorian.

Spring encourages the long dormant seeds and roots to rise toward the returning sun.  Writers, like us, use the winter burial of our talents to rest and revisit our secrets.  We bring forth new growth from old seeds and roots to blossom forth.  If some of those blossoms hint at a hidden message, a secret or two, so be it.  All human creativity energizes the earth and the living creatures dependent on that energy to survive.

Now you realize that this entire blog has been a sneaky way of introducing our theme for the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal’s Spring/Summer Issue: SECRETS.  So, now that you see your goal and a path to it, start writing so that our editors can choose the juiciest secrets for our readers to enjoy!

We welcome your entries for our literary online journal by May 31st.  Please click here for our submission guidelines.

 

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Call to Authors – Beat the Doldrums

By Linda Donaldson

New beginnings bring new opportunities for our Writers Guild members and our Writing Center. Soon we will be rolling out our 2019 Calendar of Events detailing two upcoming Memoir class series and our 2019 meeting schedule for the Writers Guild.

Mark Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) on your calendar for our first meeting at 1pm in the Cultural Center (red Barn) at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

Expect a blog later this week with Dr. Anne Kaler’s essay on the theme (it’s a secret) for the next issue of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal – the Spring/Summer 2019 issue.  Stay tuned.

Today I’d like to share a link, provided by Sandra Carey Cody, one of our Writing Center presenters and a published author, to a writing contest. The theme of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable short story contest is Animal Stories.

Entry fee is $10 for stories of 2,000 words or less about wild animals, pets or imaginary beasts (so long as an animal is an important character or element of the story.) Deadline is March 31st.

Put on your thinking caps! And keep an eye out for new blogs by Sue Wagner, author of the new poetry book Unmuted: Voices from the Edge.

Fall 2018 ♦ Volume 3, Number 2

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

 There are 20 contributions to this Fall issue of the 2018 Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. The theme of this issue is Transformation. Submissions include essays, memoirs, poems, short stories, and an excerpt from a novel.

Our thanks to authors Dr. Anne K. Kaler, Sandra Carey Cody, David H. Werrett, Jane Bleam, Paul Teese, Joseph A. Vitella, John McCabe, Susan E. Wagner, Joel Mendez, Kat Cerruti, Meredith Betz, Linda Wisniewski, Archana Kokroo, and Bob McCrillis.

Anne K. Kaler, PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Gwynedd Mercy University

(Click title to read selection. Author’s biography at end of contribution)

Transformation

An Essay by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA

Shadows

A Short Story by Sandra Carey Cody

Sunflowers

A Poem by David H. Werrett

The Baby Squirrels

A Memoir by Jane Bleam

The Naming Project

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Jake Meets Nick Rossi

An Excerpt from a Novel
by Joseph A. Vitella

Sidewalk Sanctification

A Short Story by John McCabe

The Woman Who Bound Pain to Her Bones

A Poem by Susan E. Wagner

An Hour and Forty Minutes

A Short Story by Joel Mendez

From Walking Under Trees

A Poem by John McCabe

Father and Daughter

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Mary Gertrude and the Alligator

A Short Story by Anne K. Kaler

Daddy’s Little Princess

A Memoir by Jane Bleam

A Lesson Learned

A Memoir by Kat CerRuti

White Gloves

A Memoir by Meredith Betz

Lake in the Woods

A Short Story by Linda Wisniewski

Transformations

A Short Story by Archana Kokroo

# Me Too?

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

Swimming Lessons

A Short Story by David H. Werrett

Other People’s Shoes

A Short Story by Meredith Betz

October 2018 Writers Guild News

By Linda Donaldson

This Sunday, October 21st is the final 2018 meeting of the Writers Guild of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center. We meet at 1pm until 3pm at the Cultural Center [big red barn] at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

We welcome all writers, published or aspiring, to bring a short 2-3 page selection from their work to share. The Guild members are eager to listen, offer praise and constructive critique. You are also welcome to attend and just listen. Continue reading “October 2018 Writers Guild News”

September Guild Meeting Notes

By Linda Donaldson

Our September Guild meeting began with Anne Kaler welcoming a new member, Shelley Craig. The group then began a short round-robin with each of us introducing ourselves and our writing genres.

There are short story authors, poets, essayists, memoir and non-fiction writers, news magazine feature writers, academic writers, and all sorts of novelists – historical romance, mystery, psychological thrillers, fantasy/adventure, and dystopian novels. Something for everyone! Continue reading “September Guild Meeting Notes”

Next Literary Journal Theme is Transformation

By Anne K. Kaler

The theme which the editors chose for the Fall 2018 issue of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal is that of Transformation.

The word itself suggests a two-part theme of before-and-after, then-and-now, which fit into the progression of any story, indeed, of any life itself. We are all transforming ourselves daily in small increments, often without looking back to see how each tiny decision led to the person we are today. Yes, it is a scary process, that one of making judgments on our present-day selves.

However, take a good look at the effects of recognizing those important points in our life’s path where, by chance or choice, we changed our “form” into something bigger than its former self. What changes us – praise, criticism, an overheard comment, an accident, a calling, a place, a person? “When I realized I was in love with you.” “You always do that to me!” “I’m tired of the rat race.”  “When will I have true freedom?” “I can’t be that person you want any more.”

All these transformative prompts should produce stories from each of us.  Certainly Pearl Buck herself struggled in trying to identify the person her parents wanted her to be, her husband wanted her to be, her children wanted her to be.  What seemed to transform her most as a writer was the need to produce works that would both satisfy her family’s need for money and her inner need to save children from loneliness and suffering.

We hope that this short explanation will help you identify the transformations in your own lives, your own writings, and your own beings.

The deadline for our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal’s Fall 2018 issue is October 31, 2018. Click here for a link to the Submission Guidelines.

Summer 2018 ♦ Volume 3, Number 1

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

There are 12 contributions to this Summer 2018 Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. The theme of this issue is Justice and Mercy. Submissions include essays, memoirs, poems, short stories, and an excerpt from a novel.

Our thanks to authors Dr. Anne K. Kaler, Rev. Edgar P. Roosa, Bob McCrillis, Susan Wagner, Harry J. Houldin, Jane Bleam, Sandra Carey Cody, and Paul Teese.

Anne K. Kaler, PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Gwynedd Mercy University

 

(Click title to read selection. Author’s biography at end of contribution)

Justice and Mercy

ESSAY BY ANNE K. KALER, PSBVA

Social Justice Themes in the Life and Writings of Pearl S. Buck

ESSAY BY REV. EDGAR P. ROOSA

The Thief of Time

POEM BY ANNE K. KALER, PSBVA

Mrs. Hastings

SHORT STORY BY BOB McCRILLIS

Everest

POEM BY SUSAN WAGNER

To the Bulge

EXCERPT FROM A NOVEL BY PFC HARRY J. HOULDIN

Lydwyna the Spinster and the Pearl Embroidery

EXCERPT FROM A NOVEL BY ANNE K. KALER, PSBVA

Sans Poetic Punctuation

POEM BY JOHN McCABE

The Goose Family

MEMOIR BY JANE BLEAM

The Cherry Trees

ESSAY BY SANDRA CAREY CODY

Respite

ESSAY BY PAUL TEESE

Extinguished Camp Fires Burn

SHORT STORY BY JOHN McCABE