It’s springtime at last, and I see crocuses popping up in the gardens, hear birds that have returned, and notice the osprey, who are settling in their nests. There are green stalks on the forsythia, and blossoms on some of the shrubs. We had four nor’easters in March, with lots of rain and snow; God willing, that’s the end of our winter weather.
I missed the last nor’easter because, lucky me, I was visiting friends down in Charleston, South Carolina. My good friend and colleague, Janet Lee Berg, author of Rembrandt’s Shadow, moved down south from Long Island a few years ago, and I was delighted to spend time with her and her husband, Bruce. I had visited the city many years ago, and loved walking through the historic district with them this time, and taking a horse and carriage tour on my own a couple of days later. We ate in many restaurants, and all the meals were delicious and memorable, as I knew they would be. Charleston is the nation’s No. 1 city to live in, according to readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, for five years now, and an Uber driver (I Uber-ed around on my own for a few days) told me that 43 people relocate to Charleston every day.
“There is no city on Earth quite like Charleston. From the time I first came there in 1961, it’s held me in its enchanter’s power, the wordless articulation of its singularity, its withheld and magical beauty. Wandering through its streets can be dreamlike and otherworldly, its alleyways and shortcuts both fragrant and mysterious, yet as haunted as time turned in on itself.”
I am trying to complete two memoirs right now, the sequel to Only You, called Losing Faith, set in 1962-65, my New York Times years, and Dancing Up a Storm, set in 1975-80, my move to East Hampton and belly dance teaching years. Parts of both memoirs have been published; I’d like to see the books finished before I retire – or expire.
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
Our spring memoir writing workshop at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton will run for six weeks, on Tuesdays, April 10, until May 15, from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. We have a maximum of 10 writers and, as of now, the workshop is filled. Please call the library at 631-537-0015 to be put on the waiting list. We’ll have another series in July-August.
Writing Students in the News: On March 15 Jerry Giammatteo, of Sayville, had an online essay published in the Newsday Opinion Expressway section entitled, “Energized by Long Island in the offseason.” It’s about a walk he took on March 1 from the boardwalk at Robert Moses State Park in Suffolk County to Kismet, the westernmost beach community on Fire Island, the people he met, and the observations he made.
Jerry also has an essay in the March issue of Great South Bay entitled “Should We Stay or Should We Go?” about how lovely Long Island can be, conflicting with his and his wife’s thoughts of ultimately leaving for greener (less taxes and traffic) pastures.
In an email to me from Jerry: “Remember how you always commented upon me becoming a regular at Great South Bay? Well, I may be just that. Nina, the new editor, likes my stuff and wants me to be the regular writer for a column called “Oldies but Goodies”. I will see how it goes . . . It does not pay, but as I write longer I begin to understand that the writing itself is more important. Also, it encourages me to write.”
I share this to inspire those talented writers who have worked with me (and not) to get their work out there, to newspapers and magazines — regional, national, whatever – because people will want to read it (and publish it). Which leads to this next prompt:
“The single biggest reason I got my stories taken in various literary magazines – and I want to stress this – is because I refused to give up. Period.”
Steve Almond (latest book, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country, released in March)
Joanne Pateman, of Southampton, continues her Reflections columns in The Southampton/East Hampton Press. A winter column, “Dinner with a Prime Minister” told of her meeting with the former prime minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, at a dinner in his honor over there. Another, “A Christmas Bonus” is a charming essay on family, and household clutter. Her last two columns were “Eco Chic in Healdsburg (California)” and “A Peat Fire in Ireland.” In February, for Valentine’s Day, she published profiles of three local “favorite couples in food and drink” for Edible East End.
Lily of the Maquis, a fact-based novel just published by Pat Capainolo, of Bohemia, tells the story of a woman, a member of the French underground known as the Maquis, during the World War II German occupation of France. These French resisters conducted raids on German facilities, very dangerous work. Pat’s first memoir, The Lighter Side of Vietnam, was published in 2016.
Anthony Karavais, of Ronkonkoma, just sold an essay, “Swimming” to Good Old Days Magazine; it’s a delightful reminiscence of the summer of 1953 when he was 13 years old. With a friend, he took a New York Daily Mirror free swim program at Astoria Park in Queens. It will be published in August.
Ed Schrama, of Southampton, published an autobiography last year, Extractions from a Dormant Mind, and has just published a science fiction novel, which I still haven’t seen, nor do I know the title. I love to follow Ed’s busy writing life and that of all my other past and present students.
The recently released paperback edition of my friend, Tom Clavin’s book, Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West is No. 13 on The New York Times paperback bestseller list this week. His next book, Being Ted Williams, about the baseball star, will be published in May. All great news, Tom!
Another good friend, Marilyn Levinson (Murder a la Christie), whose cozy mystery novel, Death Overdue, I recently read, and loved, was also just released in paperback. The sequel to this library thriller is another one, Read and Gone, to be released in September. Both are published under Marilyn’s nom de plume, Allison Brook.
“My goal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I do not do it. No one lives up to his ideal.”
On my reading table: A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill, Loving by Henry Green, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin, and (rereading) When the Women Come out to Dance, stories by Elmore Leonard.
As I send this out to all of you, it’s the day after Passover, and tomorrow is Easter Sunday. My thoughts are with you, and I wish all of you a happy, productive spring. Keep in touch!