Even though the weather has been unseasonably warm, with people still on the beaches out here, and lifeguards called back to duty, summer has ended and fall has begun. The annual Hamptons International Film Festival, in its 25th year, will take place next week, October 5-8. The East Hampton Cinema on Main Street, above, along with Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater, the Southampton Theater, and other venues will fill with movie industry people and fans from all over the world. The tourist season may be over, but there are still events that draw crowds. Last weekend was the seventh season of the American Music Festival, in Sag Harbor, with mostly free music of all kinds performed by over 30 acts all over the village. At Bay Street I attended “Legends of American Music”, a concert film of clips from the large historic archives of musician Joe Lauro. Music from Billie Holliday to Chuck Berry to Frank Zappa. A great show. Joe puts together one of these films at least once a year for us locals (mainly) to enjoy.

This weekend is the San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons, from Friday through Sunday, in Hampton Bays, with food trucks, live entertainment, fireworks and more. There will also be a Hurricane Relief Concert on Sunday, October 1, at the Bay Street Theater, with our local bands, the Hoodoo Loungers, Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks and “more acts to be announced.” Hopefully, many more concerts of this kind will be held on Long Island, and all over the country, to help our unfortunate hurricane victim neighbors to the south.

“Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods.”

William Wordsworth

It has been a difficult summer, after losing my daughter in May. She left four dogs and four cats; as of now, six of the pets have been adopted into good homes. One cat, Emma, 18 years old, was ill and had to be put down last week. Another, Mookie, a small black cat, is still waiting for his “forever” home, as the rescue centers put it. He lives right now with Fred, my ex-husband, in Nassau County. Anyone interested? We have cleaned out Suzanne’s home, on a lovely street in Southampton, and it is now for sale.

I held my last writing workshop series at the Connetquot Library in Bohemia in August. After nine-plus years there I decided to cut back on teaching so that I can have more time for writing and travel. The library staff held a farewell party that included a table laden with students’ published books, stand-up, framed literary cartoons, a slide show, and refreshments. Thank you, Janet Eagan, for the party, and for always being there for us. I’ll miss my writing students and plan on meeting up with them periodically.

One of our original library writers, Rita Kushner, of Oakdale, died on September 10. She was 93 years old and had been in failing health. This spirited, gifted woman edited my memoir, Only You, when she was 89 years old, and she edited one of John Nolan’s mystery novels, as well  (The Twelfth Protocol). Rita, a true comma queen, became a close friend and will be missed by her family, friends, and writing colleagues.

I’ll continue my memoir writing workshops at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, where our new classes will begin on Tuesday, October 10, from 5-7 p.m., and end on November 14. The fee for the six-week series is $75 and is open to all writers. Call to register at 631-537-0015.

“The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.”

John Irving

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In her “Reflections” column in The East Hampton Press Joanne Pateman, of Southampton, has written on a variety of topics, including her July visit to the Pollack-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs, East Hampton. “Cape Pateman” asks, “What do you do with three grandchildren for two weeks?” Her answer: “You do a camp with Grampy and Jojo.” And so that’s what happened. The fun activities Joanne and her husband engaged these children with will make you wish she had been your grandmother, your own “Jojo.” “My Jam Man” – about her husband, Mick, a fine husband and father and his joy in making jam, and this week’s “Cottage in Paradise” – where she takes the reader into and around her summer cottage on the bay – are heartwarming journeys into her life.  Perhaps Joanne will gather all these columns one day and publish them as a collection.

The East Hampton Star published several students’ memoirs this summer. “My Chickens” by Alice Martin, of Riverhead, appeared on July 6; “The Perfect Gift” by Dorothy Hand, of Bridgehampton, on July 20, and “My (Almost) Woodstock Experience” by Jill Evans, of Patchogue, on August 17. Read these fine stories online.

In the September issue of Great South Bay Magazine, in the Oldies but Goodies column, Joe Bonelli, of Oakdale, has an article, “Born in the Twentieth Century.” Also in Great South Bay Magazine, in July, Jerry Giammatteo wrote about Sayville, his hometown.

There was a nice interview in The East Hampton Press on August 30 about Bob Martin, of Montauk: “Former Cop Publishes Novel.” We learn a lot about Bob and his 33 years in the New York City Police Department, his decision to write, then to self-publish his book. Bob joined one of my writing workshops early on but credits my friend, bestselling author Tom Clavin, as one of the main “guiding hands” when starting his novel.

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West is Tom’s latest book, autographed and on my bookshelf. Look for it in your library, bookstore or on Amazon.

Dani Shapiro (Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, most recently) has a new weekly video series on Facebook. It’s called “Office Hours” and is taped in her home office in northwestern Connecticut. The sessions run five to ten minutes, and I highly recommend these to all writers, for motivation, inspiration, and to get the work done. It could be especially useful for those not in workshops or without any group support.

Two of the books on my reading table: Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, and Learning to Drive – and Other Life Stories by Katha Pollitt, who will read and be interviewed at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, as part of the fall Writers Speak series, on Wednesday, October 4. Pollitt will be interviewed by Emily Gilbert, another of my former students. The first reading, on September 13, featured authors Amy Hempel and Cornelius Eady, who have just joined the MFA faculty here at my alma mater.

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

Elmore Leonard

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Ray Bradbury

Happy autumn, everyone. Please keep in touch.

Eileen