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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Two Voices I Wish I Could Hear - IWSG September 2020


 It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. A big thank you to September co-hosts: PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

This month’s question: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Let me start by explaining something. Up until about five years ago, our family room built-in shelves were bulging with front to back, double rows of books. Those we couldn’t fit lay on top. When a book made it into our house, it found a permanent home because not only am I an ardent reader, I am also a dedicated re-reader. I’m not sure why the “keeping-all-the-books-I’ve-ever-read-in-my-life-thing” changed, perhaps as a result of online libraries or because after twenty-seven years, our home was starting to feel cluttered. Whatever. Finally, I purged, keeping only those titles with which, I couldn’t bear to part.

Off I went to those depleted shelves once I read this month’s question. Choosing one author? Impossible. But there are two authors whose books I’ve been rereading lately, which has been a help through this hard and altered summer. Sadly, both have passed on now. If either of them could have offered me suggestions on my work, I’d have been over the moon.

The first is Anita Shreve, who wrote with mystical fluidity while fictionalizing significant historical events during which her characters confront hard and life-altering truths. Toss in simple prose, spare imagery that doesn’t waste a word, and her ability to reach back in time— in some cases as adult characters telling of their twelve or fifteen-year-old-selves. While all of her stories are mature in nature, she was skilled in transporting her readers back to the past and in at least one case (Light on Snow) to the ache of youth. A few years back, I had a chance to go to a reading in which Shreve would have been featured. Sadly, she had to cancel due to illness. She died not long after.

The other author I wish I could have known is Anne Rivers Siddons whose books make this New England girl yearn for the South Carolina Low Country. I see everything she writes in my mind’s eye and it guts me. When I first read her book about a southerner’s experience as a Maine summer transplant (Colony), I was blown away with how she not only got the south, but the north, too. (Turns out, while Siddons was southern bred, she later summered in Maine). I can pick up any one of her books and be lost, and she gets bonus points lately because a few years ago, our daughter moved to Charleston. Now, when I read Siddons and she features King Street, or Folly Beach, or Sullivan’s Island, I say, “I’ve been there,” and I picture my daughter, who I miss so very much. Some of Siddons books may be dated, but they’re so universal in scope they don’t feel that way. Sadly, it was only while writing this blog post that I discovered the author died last September. 

As always when this happens, I’m a little bereft to learn another stunning voice has been stilled.

What authors do you love?  I would love to hear why.