Gardiner Mill, East Hampton
This is one of three historic mills in East Hampton Village that were lit up in honor of Ukraine this month. On March 3, at Hook Mill, the mayor, local ministers and rabbis, spoke to over one hundred people about the injustices of the war and prayed for an end to the Russian invasion. Two young women from Ukraine, who are living in Montauk, held a large Ukrainian flag across the podium. Their family members are fighting in the war. The daily news has been alarming and makes us aware that peace is a long way off.
It was a cold, windy, wet winter, but spring is on its way. As I write this, on March 28, it’s in the low 20s. Three days later, it’s in the 50s. Here’s hoping that number grows larger each day. As for Covid, maskless seems to be the new norm but, like many other people, I still wear mine in supermarkets and in other crowded venues.
I missed the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montauk on Sunday, which was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, and was attended by thousands this year. I was a guest that day at a lunchtime baby shower at the Bellport Country Club in western Suffolk for my grand niece. In a few months I will meet my very first great-grand niece.
Sunday night I was at the Sag Harbor Cinema watching the Academy Awards presentations on the big screen. The theater was open, free of charge to members and to others. I stayed until 9 p.m. but I’m sure many people (mostly not masked, by the way) stayed until the end. Movies I’ve seen at the theater this past year include Belfast, The Worst Person in the World, The Power of the Dog, Parallel Mothers, and just last week, the documentary, The Automat (which I loved, having worked in Manhattan in the bustling automat days). Now I’ll want to see some of the Oscar winners.
“Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along.”
from Sunset Boulevard (1950)
“I am the author. You are the audience. I outrank you!”
from The Producers (1968)
After two-plus years of no traveling, I’m finally flying to California in mid-April to visit my son. I’ll land in Sacramento, and drive to Chico, 90 miles north to spend a week there. Then I’ll return to Sacramento to visit friends and spend two nights at the Delta King Hotel. This is a huge paddlewheel riverboat built in 1927 and converted to a charming hotel; it’s moored along the Old Sacramento Waterfront.
I’ve had so many wonderful comments about my novel, Three Rooms, Shared Bath: a Landlady in the Hamptons, which is gratifying. This spring and summer I’ll be doing some more promotion for the book. I continue to go through essays I’ve written and published (or not) and my two unfinished memoirs. The work never stops, nor should it. Note the sixth and seventh words, and the last two, of the following quote:
“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.”
So – Neil knows the title of my first book, my memoir, and has honored it here.
Our winter writing workshop ended on March 22, at the parish hall of the Catholic Church in Bridgehampton. We were a small group and have worked together for some time as they write, mostly, their personal essays and memoirs. On Tuesday, May 10, we will meet again, at my home this time, from 4 – 6 p.m., for six weeks, ending on June 14. A couple more writers would be welcome. Be in touch if you’re interested.
“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without this exercise, the muscles seize up.”
From 1996 through 2006 I held writing workshops in my home. I remain in touch with some of the writers who attended those classes, partly through this quarterly newsletter. Many of them have published stories, essays, poetry and books over the years, and I’m very proud of them. Among the “graduates” of those workshops are:
Sheila Flynn DeCosse, of Sag Harbor and Manhattan, who just published Rose Alone (TBR Books), a novel for young readers (ages 10-14). An immigration tale with bi-lingual content, Rose struggles to find her way in a colonial world (1775 East Hampton) torn apart by the warring French and English Empires in the French and Indian War. See the book on Amazon. A French translation will be available in the fall.
Eve Karlin, of East Hampton, will see her second novel published in June. Her story was inspired by the Nazi saboteur landing in Amagansett, Long Island, in the summer of 1942. Track 61 is a spy thriller set in World War II “that seeks justice for those caught on the wrong side of history.” You can pre-order the book through Bookhampton, where Eve is a bookseller and runs the book club.
Debbie Tuma, of Riverhead, a long-time journalist who was born and raised in Montauk, where her family was well known in the fishing business, is at work on a memoir.
In this week’s East Hampton Star (March 31 edition) Debbie writes, in the Guestword column, about a recent concert at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Frankie Avalon performed and while she was more into 70s music when young, Avalon’s music at the sold-out concert made a deep impression on her. See the newspaper or read it online.
On April 12, my friend, Tom Clavin’s latest book will be released. To the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The Epic Hunt for the South’s Most Feared Ship – and the Greatest Sea Battle of the Civil War, co-authored with Phil Keith. It’s about “one of the most dramatic naval battles in history . . . the outcome of which would effectively end the threat of the Confederacy on the high seas.” See the book at your local bookstore or on Amazon.
“Writing is just having a sheet of paper, a pen and not a shadow of an idea of what you’re going to say.”
“Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth.”
Enjoy the spring, and keep reading and writing! Send me any news you’d like to share.