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Writer Waking Up - A Publication Blog

On Letting Go...

Today's post concludes a three-part Q&A series I began a couple of months ago: I requested long-time writing friends to ask me the questions that came to mind when they read A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. My interviewer for this post is Marjorie Hudson, author of the nonfiction narrative Searching for Virginia Dare and the story collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas.

MH: How did you become a writer? What has writing brought you in your life?

CH: I only accidentally became a writer, but like many writers, I grew up with a big reading habit. Our little old house was stuffed with books, and I consumed them with the same enthusiasm I consumed candy. Really, those were similarly palliative obsessions. The house was packed full of tension and secrets, too, and curling up in a closet or a tree with a book was a sure-fire, temporary escape. All through my childhood my parents took us children to the public library every week. I checked out as many books as I was allowed and made sure to read them all before the next visit. I started with picture books, of course; I adored Dr. Suess--all that rhyming and lively language rhythm made me giddy. I developed an odd fascination with books that categorized things, especially animals. I devoured big picture books of facts on every breed of dog, cat, horse, chicken--seriously: chickens. At home, I was reading the World Book Encyclopedia cover to cover, a set of 25 volumes from the early 1950s with tiny print and black-and-white photos. I think I wanted to know everything there was to know without quite realizing that was my goal.  Read More 
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Launch Amid Life

The three launch events for my just-released memoir were marvelously fun--the result of weeks of planning, networking, and selfless giving by friends and writers. In the span of four weeks I read from and talked about my book amid colleagues and students in southern California at my job in a low-residency MFA program; in my hometown indie bookstore before 40 friends and a wine-and -cheese reception; and, most recently, under the cardboard cutout gaze of Southern iconic writer Thomas Wolfe at the memorial his mother's boarding house has become. At all three events I had my right knee wrapped in a big black Velcro brace. In each case it hurt a little to stand for the required hour or so. At all three events I chose my dress with care and put some effort into hair and makeup (something I seldom do, but for public appearances appearance has always been, for me, part of the program), all while admonishing myself not to care that the ugly brace spoiled the effect.

Three days after the last event and less than a week ago as I type this, I had outpatient surgery to repair a torn meniscus. My days since the surgery revolve around the slow and awkward mechanics of post-operative grooming and thrice-daily sets physical therapy exercises.  Read More 
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