By Suzanne Strempek Shea
Suzanne Stempek Shea with readers at a recent event.
My home in the Western Massachusetts valley is rich with writers living and dead. I regularly park my car at the meter below Emily Dickinson’s bedroom window. Errands and events take me past the Eric Carle museum, and also the house that belonged to one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The only positive aspect of going to an oral surgeon during childhood was that his office was on the same street where Dr. Seuss grew up. Opening the door to a local bookstore, I once nearly smashed into the poet James Tate and a group of his students. Recently waiting to pay for a futon cover at a furniture store, I found Jonathan Harr in line front of me in line.
Around here it’s hard to swing a laptop without whacking into any local ink-stained wretches – or successes including enough whose mantels heft Pulitzers or Caldecotts or National Book Awards. So it would be natural to think we scribes of all sorts socialize, that we attend a writers’ club much like the Elks or the Moose or the AMVETS clubs that dot the landscape. But there isn’t one. Or maybe they’re just not telling me about it.
By Jeanne Marie Beaumont
A final wave from my board as I await the “Dancers, put on your shoes” opening.
It may have been one of the craziest things I had ever done. The week before I was to leave for the Stonecoast summer residency, I enrolled myself in an intensive tap workshop, as part of Tap City, and I also signed on to perform Tap It Out in Times Square. I would be adding my two feet to the chorus of some 300 others in, as the press release states, “a pre-choreographed orchestral collage of a cappella unison rhythms, contrapuntal sequences, individual riffs, movements and grooves . . . that promotes tap dance as pure music.”
What that meant in terms of time was that I was signing up for more than 25 hours of tapping, including class, practices, rehearsals, and four performances, during the week of July 8th. My morning workshop class was with a teacher who has a reputation for toughness, one whom I had found demanding and a bit intimidating in the past. Yet I knew that she had a lot to teach me and that I had a lot to learn.
By Carolina De Robertis
This list began as a series of notes to myself, things I’ve needed to hear these first four years as a mother-writer. I hope something here can be of use to you as well. (As for you fathers, or you writers-not-parents or even artists-not-parents, I see you too; feel free to find resonance here as well.)
1. These aren’t rules. There are no rules. You’re a writer and mother, so mother and write.
2. You don’t always have to love the journey.
3. Love the journey.
4. A paragraph written with spit-up on your shirt will look no worse in print.
5. Hide from your children. The bathroom is good. Caves are good. Child care is better than diamonds (hint, hint, partners, relatives, friends).
6. Take yourself seriously.