ABOUT MY WRITING
I've always enjoyed writing. From my early teens, I turned to writing to express myself and to clarify my thinking. I kept diaries, and wrote short stories and poetry. In college, writing research papers was a challenge I loved to take on. At UMass Amherst in the mid-1970’s, I worked as a secretary to Chinua Achebe, celebrated author from Nigeria. Our office was across the hall from visiting professor, Shirley Graham DuBois. This was when I first learned of the achievements of her late husband, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, and the seed was planted for my first book.
It wasn’t until the early 1990’s, that I started writing that book. I was working in the Reference Department of my hometown Library, when I was laid off due to budget cuts. I boldly made a proposal to Joanne Weisman Deitch, the owner of a small publishing company in Lowell. Discovery Enterprises published my first book, W.E.B. DuBois: Crusader for Peace, as well as my second, Pride and Promise: the Harlem Renaissance. Before the second book went to print the Library called me back to work.
It was a routine reference call at the Library that planted the seed for "Derailed," my latest work-in-progress. The caller asked about a circus train that derailed in West Chelmsford in the early 1900’s. After doing the research to answer her question, I couldn't get the story out of my head. Over the years I found more details from books and old newspaper accounts. I even interviewed an elderly neighbor who shared his first-hand account of seeing performers from the Wild West Show at the train station the morning the train derailed, May 24, 1911. Soon after I retired, I brought all my research together and wrote my current work-in-progress, "Derailed." I look forward to sharing this story.
I worked many jobs before I went off to college, from picking strawberries, scooping ice cream to babysitting. I spent a couple summers working in the last textile mill in Lowell and made enough money to take my first trip to Italy and to "work" as an apprentice in a summer theatre on Cape Cod. I graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in Theatre Education, attended film school in Cambridge and graduate school at UMass Amherst. Many years later, I enrolled in the Arts Administration graduate program at Boston University.
Over the years I wrote for several newspapers and did PR in the healthcare industry. In 1986, with two small children at home, I started working in my hometown library as a part time Reference Assistant. Seven years later, that job evolved into a full time position in the Library's Community Services Department. I retired in 2016, as the Assistant Director of Programming & Community Relations.
Since retiring I have found time, focus and energy to complete several manuscripts that I set aside years ago, and to begin many new writing projects. I've discovered several new interests as well. My husband and I have three children and two granddaughters. I am a founding member of Chelmsford's Climate Action Team, a member of the MA chapter of Elders Climate Action, the Learning in Retirement Association (LIRA), the Chelmsford Art Society, the Arts League of Lowell and a member of the Chelmsford Friends of the Library.
ABOUT MY ART
Once I retired I took up pottery and quickly noticed how pottery informs the process of writing. It teaches me to stop worrying about perfection, to have fun and to become more comfortable with ambiguity. I let the clay tell me what to make of it. When writing, I try to step back and let my characters tell me where they're going. Sharon Levy, my first pottery teacher, often said, "We work best when we get out of our own way." She also emphasized that, "Your pottery should tell a story." My painting teacher, Denise Rainis, echoes that same advice. "Your painting should tell a story." I find it interesting that so many writers say, "Your writing should paint a picture for your reader."
Painting, writing and building with clay are all ways to express ourselves and tell our stories. Our stories help connect us with one another. Stories can be powerful.
Art Update - Spring 2021
The pandemic gave me time to learn new skills. I am teaching myself how to "paint" on my new iPad Pro, and I recently taught myself to use iMovie to merge painting with my poetry. It's been lots of fun!
Check out my latest pieces: