Writers Guild August Meeting

By Linda Donaldson

Five Writers Guild members who attended our August meeting brought selections to share.

Jane Bleam added to her student nursing stories with a delightful story, The Inquisitive Five Year Old, about listening carefully to understand what a child really means when she speaks. Listeners wanted more details of the patient and the hospital. One suggested reading the story aloud after writing to catch awkward spots.

The next selections, two poems by Betty Esris, were both unique and thought-provoking. In her first poem, Headline, August 2, 2011: Central Park Zoo Peacock Flies the Coop, the beautiful bird attracts observers who stop to click pictures. The narrator pictures the bird flying home to the Middle East, stopping in the Horn of Africa on the way and being wistfully witnessed by a mother on a roadside during the stillbirth of a her child. Many commented on that stark contrast of beauty with suffering.

Betty’s second poem Fastback 1967 follows the story of a young man’s love for his first car and how his memory of it serves as a brief respite during a battle in Vietnam. The car as a symbol of freedom is artfully expressed.

On the transportation theme, John McCabe brought us a portion of a longer story, Biking the West Coast of Oregon, about a man claiming a vintage motorcycle in Portland left for him by a old friend for a drive down the Coast to visit him. This evocative trip down memory lane brings him up against recollections of his past relationship with a girl long ago. Listeners had a lot to say about motorcycles and how they define eras.

Ron Price shared Thirty Fingers, Thirty Toes about the birth of triplet granddaughters. Ron describes first the joy, then the gravity of not weeks, but months of care in the NICU, learning their routine and sharing contact with these tiny treasures. After his daughter was released, the hospital provided cameras in the incubator room so each child could be individually watched on any computer screen 24/7. Ron tells what that miracle was like from a grandfather’s point of view. A well-written story that would fit many markets.

Daphne Freise, whose career as a flight attendant traveling worldwide included several years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, shared her short story The Chai Wallah. Praised for its evocative language with lots of descriptive detail, Daphne’s story about a man with expired papers who is encountered by authorities in a public market, parallels modern-day conflicts between illegal immigrants and regulations that favor employers who exploit foreign workers. We look forward to more stories!

Our monthly Writers Guild meetings (the third Sunday afternoons from March to October) are where we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners.

Join us on Sunday, September 15th from 1pm to 3pm in the Pearl S. Buck International Cultural Center (Red Barn), 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

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Summer 2019 ♦ Volume 4, Number 1

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

Secrets

Secrets – one of the first things we learn as children.

The concept of secrets starts with toddlers being shushed by parents for commenting on someone’s weight or color or disability. They get shushed again for repeating something Mommy or Daddy said. “Don’t tell, don’t say that to Daddy, Mommy, neighbors or doctors.”

As we get older, secrets become more complicated and seemingly more necessary in our lives. We even keep secrets from ourselves by refusing to discuss or cope or change. Yet, we hate secrets too. We struggle to decide which ones to keep and which ones to tell. We bemoan this universal human tendency while we embrace the need for it. We excuse the white lies and feel guilty about bigger ones. We all have secrets we don’t want others to know, private and hidden knowledge filled with power. The secrets might amaze or embarrass, betray, shock or harm. We simply don’t know.

So, what do we do?

Recently, our teenage grandson came into my kitchen just as I finished an edit on a poem. Impulsively, I asked if he’d like to read it. Being both polite and kind, he said he would. The poem describes an incident from my childhood which, through the alchemy of writing, was transformed into something new.

“Did this happen to you?” he asked. “Is it real?”

Then, we talked about prose and poetry being a release for emotions, a release for the demons we all carry or a release for secrets we can’t otherwise share. Those things can be put into words on a page where it may touch a chord in a reader. Through the alchemy of writing, I took an incident and made it new, gave it a different life in a poem. He connected to that and I saw the understanding as it began to show on his face.

Like any art, writing allows you to take a thought or emotion and create something new, something that may or may not have anything to do with the original inspiration. We mine our lives for those nuggets we find useful and transform them into art, music, prose, and poetry. My grandson understood that and likened it to his favorite movies and the stories they tell. Since he enjoys art and music, I suggested he try it himself and one day he may.

Often, writing exposes a deeper truth and the secrets that are kept there. In the act of writing, we may reveal something to ourselves, thoughts or feelings we didn’t know we had. From this, we can learn what themes our life follows and what problems occur the most. That is why writing journals is so useful and why bibliotherapy – the use of poetry or prose to explore feelings — works. We literally see ourselves in words.

Conversely, writing hides secrets in plots or images, which wait to be found by the reader.  That is why mysteries are so popular – we don’t know something, so we need clues to help us find the secret. There’s a reason Law and Order was so popular for so many years. We like knowing secrets, even those of fictional characters. It gives us satisfaction.

Biographies and memoirs reveal the secrets of someone’s life, which can be endlessly fascinating. Even self-help books reveal secrets – Learn to cook creatively! Be a better person! Learn the secret of weight loss!

We chose Secrets as a theme for this issue of the journal because there is something deeply human about them, something that brings out emotions of every sort. It is universally interesting and it inspires all kinds of writing. We have a little bit of everything in this issue, a variety well worth exploring.

So, come – visit our secrets.

Susan E. Wagner
Editor, PSB Literary Journal

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

Bike Ride

A Poem by Susan E. Wagner

A Sea of a Thousand Shalt Nots

A Memoir by Meredith Betz

A Moment

A Novel Excerpt by Melissa Triol

In the Time of

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Secrets – A Play in Four Scenes

A Play by David H. Werrett

The Secret of the Double Knot

A Poem by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA

Whose Secret Is It?

A Memoir by Linda C. Wisniewski

Secrets Beyond the Windowsills

A Poem by John A. McCabe

Poetry in Brief

An Essay by Susan E. Wagner

In the Garden of the Lost and Found

A Short Story by Meredith Betz

Harry’s Hobby Shop

A Memoir by Fred W. Donaldson

Lost Generation

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Winter Roses

A Short Story by Paul Sullivan

Cereal Killers

A Mystery by Ann Nonymous

Ogallala Memories

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

His Footsteps

A Poem by David H. Werrett

A Women’s Tale

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Nevada’s Light Brigade: A Top Secret Clearance

A Novel Excerpt by John A. McCabe

Keeper of Secrets

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Secretes Continuum

A Memoir by Ronald Scott Price

Writers Guild News

By Linda Donaldson

Our next meeting of the Writers Guild will be Sunday, July 21st from 1 to 3pm at Pearl S. Buck’s historic home – Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944. We welcome all writers to join us as we share our work for friendly discussion and critique.

The Guild is excited to welcome author Paul Sullivan and his friend Eileen Gantley to our July meeting. Though Paul hasn’t attended our meetings for awhile, he has been writing and publishing nonetheless. His new book, A Thousand Tears, is about the Great Irish Famine of 1845 to 1849. We include a link here to his publisher’s author page listing Paul’s eight novels with them. Continue reading “Writers Guild News”

Pearl Buck Writers Guild Meets and Ponders

Six Guild members discussed their contributions at the April 2019 Writers Guild meeting in Pearl Buck House International Center, Bucks County, PA.

Using a story of love-remembered and the power-of-hope, John McCabe examined vivid characters and their dimensions of belief and fear of death through a sensitive story. Guild members suggested clearer name attribution to speakers in dialogue exchanges.

Melissa Triol’s latest mystery thriller revealed that her passionate, calculating heroine Eglantine was no match for her sister Prudence in the aftermath of a climactic murder scene. Plotting her cover-up, less-than-accurately named Prudence rivals any modern-day schemer in a promising page-turner. Continue reading “Pearl Buck Writers Guild Meets and Ponders”