My short story, “Ain’t Just a River,” just won Second Prize in the annual Carolina Woman Magazine Writing Contest! The story is now published in the May/June 2019 issue.
I’m tickled that the piece will get a wide circulation (the magazine is distributed to 500 locations in the Triangle area to a readership of 100,000). It was inspired by the work of one of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet, artist Marsha Rogers of Backporch Pottery in Benson. Marsha has a positive attitude about everything. She loves family, friends and home. She loves creating and connecting with people. Her smile is a like a buttercup on a spring day, upraised and reflecting the warm sun.
I met Marsha last July at the Harrison Center for Active Aging in Selma, North Carolina, where she five other artists were working on their summer projects and catching up with each other’s busy lives. Marsha had just been awarded a grant from the United Arts Council to acquire a larger kiln to support her art of pottery-making. I watched her scroll through cell phone pictures of tobacco leaf platters and doll head boxes. I was so taken with her square clay chickens that I put them, and Marsha, as a character in my story.
After I toiled over at least five versions in rewriting, I went back to the Harrison Center the next Tuesday and announced that while I wasn’t an artist, I was a writer and I wanted to read my draft aloud to them to get their input. Of course, rookie me, I had the art of pottery-making all wrong in the story. They offered correct details of multiple firings and glazing – even a mini-history on how native Americans made their pottery. I was writing notes all over the margins and backsides of my pages. Most of all, a young woman named Mary Jones was excited to help – she had spent six months in college doing a thesis on pottery. She said she couldn’t wait to tell people she finally got to use it.
Now I can’t wait to tell all the artists that my story is published! Ah, the best days are when a story finds a home! Thank you, Carolina Woman magazine, and thank you, artists Marsha Rogers, Judy Boyette, Mary Jones, Chris Boyette, Loretta Langdon and Evelyn Wool of the Johnston County Arts Council! Join the artists (and me) at the Harrison Center for Active Aging this summer – and complete your own creative projects!