Summer 2018

It is summer in the Hamptons and the East End is overflowing with tourists and traffic. We’ve had wonderful beach weather this week, sunny and hot, with some thunderstorms as I write this. The storms will come and go, and the delightful weather will continue throughout July and August, God and nature willing.

“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.”

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Brown Posey Press, an imprint of Sunbury Press, published the second edition of my memoir, Only You, on April 28. A few changes were made, such as much clearer photos taken in the days of my youth that I describe and write about, and I’m delighted with the outcome. See the book on Sunbury’s site or on Amazon.

On June 5 I was interviewed on radio by Tory Gates, another Sunbury Press author, on the Brown Posey Press Show, part of Book Speak, Blog Talk Radio Network. The programs are broadcast live, and then turned into podcasts for future listening. Tory and I spoke for one hour about books, the writing life and the challenges we face. He posted the podcast on my Facebook page, so if you are curious and want to hear us speak about Only You and writing for an hour, there we are! Tory hosts and produces music, talk and sports programs across Central Pennsylvania. Look for his novels on Amazon, including his latest, Searching for Roy Buchanan.

On June 7 I was a presenter for the East Hampton Arts Council’s “Creative Network Night” at the Golden Eagle Studio in East Hampton. Artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, photographers – all people in the arts – are invited to speak about their work at these events, and some four guest artists speak each time. I spoke about Only You, of course, but about memoir writing in general, my many years of teaching, and about my published students. There was a very good response from the audience, with questions and even some laughter. The program was videotaped by LTV and should be available on YouTube sometime soon.

After these two interviews my next place to speak was at Southampton Hospital on June 11, where nurses and doctors asked me many questions prior to and after my total knee replacement surgery. I had hoped to live out this life with all my original body parts but, alas, it wasn’t to be. As I write this newsletter, I’m still recovering at home, with nurses and physical therapists making visits.

I will be back on the road by Tuesday, July 9, when our summer memoir writing workshop will begin at the Bridgehampton Library. We will meet again for six sessions, ending on August 13, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., and you can call the library to sign up at 631-537-0015.

“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that, but you are the only you.”

Neil Gaiman

Treasures: The Memoir of an Artist by my good friend, Elaine Marinoff Good, was released on June 5 by SDP Publishing, and can been seen on Amazon. I hope you will read her story and comment on it. I was Elaine’s editor as she wrote the book and am so pleased that her family saw this publication through, as was Elaine’s wish. She died in May 2018. To quote from one of her reviewers: “A vivid memoir of a remarkable woman who came of age during a tumultuous time of transition for women. Her honesty, passion and bond us to this fearless seeker.” After Elaine’s death I adopted her beloved 10-year old female cat, Krissy, who is sitting nearby as I write this. We have bonded, just as Elaine had hoped.

Joanne Patemen, of Southampton, the East Hampton Press Reflections columnist, wrote about vineyards on the North Fork, specifically the sale of Palmer Vineyards to Charles Massoud, the patriarch and founder of Paumanok Vineyard. It’s a lovely, detailed piece about the Massoud family’s background and plans for the future. She also wrote “From Narcissist to Mentor” in which she explains how she has evolved from the former into the latter. “Mentoring makes me feel young. By putting my efforts, knowledge and influence into someone else, I’m investing the future,” she writes. “It’s a way of passing on to others, to be connected to people and their world, thereby enlarging my own.” As a teacher for several decades, I understand and appreciate Joanne’s view on this. Her column this week is called “The World Comes to PT” and, ironically, it’s about her trips to physical therapy because of – what else? – a knee problem. I’ll be starting local physical therapy visits after this week, in a local facility, and I love Joanne’s take on the socialization that becomes part of the sessions.

I haven’t heard from other students, past or present, or from colleagues, regarding their latest published works. Hopefully, they have all spent the spring writing essays, memoirs and whatever else. I look forward to seeing the progress they’re making.

“The matter you have to decide for yourself is: Is this as good as I can make it, as I am now? … If you can answer that question for yourself – say, ‘This is as good as I can make it’ – then you’re done with it.”

Tobias Wolff

“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Sylvia Plath

Two favorite books on my reading table include Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer, who is Copy Chief of Random House. I recommend it to all writers.

The other is Outer Order/Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin.

“Every time someone opens a book and begins to read, a synergy between the reader and the writer occurs across time and space.”

Jeanette O’Hagan