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Telling Tales

And grateful to be able to do so



Fiction writing, I believe, is two parts imagination, one part confession. So I admit this: I was very happy as a writer until I was published. Please don’t judge me too harshly for sounding ungrateful. I can see you rolling your eyes. What writer doesn’t want to be published? Actually, there are some. This I know for a fact, thanks to a friend who teaches writing at a prominent Southern university. She happens to know several such writers who view any form of commercial success as a sellout, and aside from literary journals (and only a select few of those), publication is synonymous with the death of art. For me, in the beginning—out of naiveté, not disdain—publication was no more tangible than a distant fog, a remote wish in an industry as capricious as the weather. I started writing because I loved to tell stories, the art of which was instilled in me by my North Carolina family ever since I was old enough to sit at the grown-up table for Sunday lunch. If you could hold your own in that forum over fried chicken, sweet corn, and banana pudding, there just might be hope for you in the world outside.

When I started working on The Sweet By and By, I didn’t know it was a novel. I was living on the Upper West Side, my home of almost 20 years, when I decided to go on the first writers’ retreat of my life. Yaddo it was not. A dear friend’s family had a worn, comfortable beach house (the kind where you’re not afraid to actually use the bathroom or put your feet on the sofa) on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, and she invited me, along with an established author friend, down for four days of writing. I cried out, “I’m there!” before ever thinking about what, if anything, I was going to write. What ensued was a free-for-all on paper. There was no cell service, no Internet, not even cable TV. If you needed to send a fax, you had to go the island’s mom-and-pop general store and hope the owners weren’t out crabbing. At the end of every day, after dinner and ample wine, anyone who dared might read whatever sentences he had managed to eke out, followed by the perfect combination of encouragement and unapologetic, brutal critique. It was occupational therapy at its best.

I didn’t start writing because it seemed like the right career move. I had already had two careers, one as a New York session singer and the second as a Broadway producer. I also thought I was probably too old to be taken seriously as a new writer. (I still fight this voice in my head, sounding like an evil librarian who is the self-appointed keeper of the Western canon.) The truth is that no one seems to be much interested in a list of “20 Writers To Watch Under 80.” I’d love to see that list, not simply because if I work hard enough I might one day make the cut, but also because it could be incredibly liberating for writers and readers alike. Think about it: if a number of the writers to watch were truly approaching 80, then the good news is that no one would have to watch them for very long. That would mean a revolving door for plenty of others to find their way into the literary limelight, or at least, candlelight.

In fact, publication was for me more akin to the harsh fluorescent tubes of a hospital corridor. Everything unmercifully exposed. The more I came to know about the business of books, the harder I had to work to create the feeling of genuine play that had previously been my natural state when facing the blank page. In that state, there was plenty of room for fortuitous accidents. These, in my experience, arrive in two forms: the blissful sort that take you off guard, as when an intriguing character brazenly leaps onto the page unannounced and tap dances while your fingers try to keep up, or the messier kind of accident, no less fortuitous, to be cleaned up like spilled coffee grinds, when the same character who seemed so utterly beguiling on arrival turns out to be more boring than a barrel of hair.

When my partner and I moved full-time to Norfolk, one of the things we talked about every night was just how loud the quiet could be. We joked about the fact that if there was noise, it was coming from inside our own heads. I have a friend who likes to say, “Wherever you go, there you are,” and he’s right. No place, not even the idyllic Litchfield Hills, can provide solace on its own. But it does help that when the demons of expectation and productivity are perched on my shoulders like birds on a wire (most often invited by me), I can get up from my desk and go for a swim in the lake. I can run with the dogs. Or I can drive to the barn and take a long ride on my horse, who thankfully has never heard of any major publishers and has never received more than a carrot as an advance for his efforts. And for these small favors, every day that I live here, I’m grateful. As far as I know, gratitude is the surest path to a playful spirit. The artist in me bolts out of hiding. Free again, I can spend my writing hours looking for the happy accidents.

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November 2018

Art That Speaks: Exhibition and Opening Exhibition October 1-November 15, 2018 Artist Reception: October 8, 4pm to 6pm.Fuel Bistro​, 293 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Gabrielle...

Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
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Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
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Art That Speaks: Exhibition and Opening Exhibition October 1-November 15, 2018 Artist Reception: October 8, 4pm to 6pm.Fuel Bistro​, 293 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Gabrielle...

Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

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Join Art Rodia, an instructor with over 30 years of yoga teaching experience, as he guides this gentle yoga class. Created for people over fifty and beginners who need a gentle and accessible...

Cost: 10 per class

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Harper Keehn is a professional knife sharpener based in New Haven. Bring your knives, serrated knives, pizza cutters, scissors, food processor blades, and other edge tools to be sharpened on site....

Cost: 1.25/inch

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
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Art That Speaks: Exhibition and Opening Exhibition October 1-November 15, 2018 Artist Reception: October 8, 4pm to 6pm.Fuel Bistro​, 293 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Gabrielle...

Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Art That Speaks: Exhibition and Opening Exhibition October 1-November 15, 2018 Artist Reception: October 8, 4pm to 6pm.Fuel Bistro​, 293 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Gabrielle...

Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

More information

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(Litchfield, Conn.) Brandywine Living at Litchfield will be hosting their 6th Annual Ladies Night Out Charity Shopping Event on Thursday, November 15th  from 5-7 PM. This spectacular community...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Brandywine Living at Litchfield
19 Constitution Way
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Brandywine Living at Litchfield
Telephone: 860-567-9500
Contact Name: Amber Chapman
Website »

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KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

Art That Speaks: Exhibition and Opening Exhibition October 1-November 15, 2018 Artist Reception: October 8, 4pm to 6pm.Fuel Bistro​, 293 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Gabrielle...

Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

More information

Brandywine Living at Litchfield's 6th Annual Ladies Night Out Charity Shopping Event.  Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 5 pm to 7 pm. Join us for food, signature drinks, fun and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Brandywine LIving at Litchfield
19 Constitution Way
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Brandywine Living at Litchfield
Telephone: 860-567-9500
Contact Name: Nanette Bergin

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

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Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The League of Women Voters of Litchfield County will co-sponsor a talk with the Litchfield Historical Society on Saturday, November 17 at 4 p.m. entitled “Nation of Immigrants" featuring Kevin...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Lithfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

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St Joseph High School's Maroon & Gold Gala is a scholarship event that casts a spotlight on the school’s strong commitment to community service and leadership. It is a fabulous...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Waterview
215 Roosevelt Drive
Monroe, CT  06468
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Sponsor: St Joseph High School
Telephone: (203) 378-9378
Contact Name: St Joseph High School
Website »

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