By, Tina Ann Forkner
When I first met Amy through our words and stories online, I was very sure she had figured out how to do what I had never been able to, which was to be fully and wholly a writer. When she reads this, she’s going to laugh, but it’s true. I still think Amy spends more time at her keyboard than most of us do, but now that I am older, I have learned that no author’s life is a fairytale. Even though I pictured Amy always at her desk tapping away (which I still think she almost always is), I eventually realized that her writing is so good because while she is fully a writer, she is wholly a person.
Scott Fitzgerald said, “Writers aren’t exactly people…they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.” Amy and I have talked a lot over the years, but the bulk of our conversations have probably been more about the many other roles we play in life than about writing. And it’s not just us. It’s hard to get two or more women writers in a room to talk about writing, without them first spending a good part of the conversation talking about anything, but writing. And truthfully, why would we want to do anything else? Women talking and listening to each other’s stories has a long tradition, and you don’t have to be an author to be part of it.
In How to Make an American Quilt, by Whitney Otto, women gather together annually to piece together quilts while sharing stories of their lives. When I was young, my friend and I got together to create scrapbooks and even to make some small gift quilts together. We didn’t talk much about technique, but we talked for hours about what was happening in our lives. I needed that time to work through my feelings and to know that I wasn’t alone, and with each stitch and word, we became stronger together.
Later, when I wrote my own first novel, it is not surprising that I gave my characters creative ways to share their stories, including the grandmother’s love of quilting. When the book (Ruby Among Us) was published, my local librarians, Lucie Osborn and Carey Hartmann posed in front of a quilt with me, which was made by a Laramie County Library Foundation Board Member, Beth Howard. As everyone stood amidst the backdrop of the party chatting, even the men, I thought about how we all share stories, even if we don’t all write books.
Speaking of books, Amy has a new novel. If you are new to the Tall Poppy Writers, I’m happy to tell you that the title is Left to Chance, by the other half of this column, Amy Sue Nathan. In it, there is more story telling that, while fiction, will no doubt draw you in and allow you to reflect on your own life, which no doubt includes many stories and, as Fitzgerald put it, many people.
Thanks for joining us. Be sure to visit again, and let us know how the tradition of sharing words and stories is shaping your own lives.
Until next time…
Tina Ann Forkner writes women’s fiction. When she isn’t writing or traveling with her husband, she is a substitute teacher in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Tina is the mom/stepmom of three children, all in college, and the author of five novels, including her most recent novel, The Real Thing.