THE EDITOR'S DESK by Ellyn Wolfe
Anticipating the mild days of Spring is not a big deal in the Inland Empire. Winters are gentle enough to play golf and tennis, go swimming, and hike while the rattlesnakes are still hibernating. But if you spent the month of February on Cape Ann, north of Boston as I did, the experience is different. A high of fourteen degrees outside and nor’easter number two on its way made we wonder why I was there. Fodder for a novel I kept telling myself.
As I drove slowly through the narrow hundred-year-old streets of Gloucester, slowly because the homes are perched only a few feet from the road’s edge, something caught my writer’s eye. An eight foot yellow pencil was attached with three erasers to a house. ‘Gloucester Writing Center’ was emblazoned down its length. I pulled over and Googled. “Open Mic Night Friday” it said. “Everyone Welcome.”
All the local wordsmiths were there – a life-long resident read from her memoir, a scruffy fisherman offered tender poetry, a woman with a gift for comedy left us wanting more, and so it went for two engaging hours. The follow-up conversation, so much like that which follows a DVWG meeting, made me feel right at home.
A few days later I found myself lunching with Greg Gibson, author of Gone Boy and an article on the cover of that Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, both about his son who was killed in a school shooting. His advice for me, the fledgling memoirist who also lost a son, was effective in getting me thinking about how my story would stand out when read by an agent.
I met another author who volunteered to Beta read my book. Another read my first attempt at a children's book and promptly shared her process with me.
When creative people get together as we did on Cape Ann, in weekly critique groups at home, or at Diamond Valley Writer’s Guild meetings, a deep camaraderie develops. We all share a certain something within that drives us to our craft, drives us to express ourselves as individuals, and drives us to help each other. Information and support freely given to those who are new, going through a rough patch, or simply want to learn is a glue that sticks us together and moves us toward success. It’s this generosity that spills from one artist to another, from one genre to another that I love most.
I will go back to Massachusetts again next February to brave the chill and absorb the warmth of my fellow writers.
Enjoy this Spring edition of Straitjackets Magazine, brought to you by our expanded team – JoLynne Buehring and me and our two new editors – Judie Maré and Cheryl McGuire. Be sure to read their bios and their contributions to SJM.
Ellyn Wolfe Managing Editor and Publisher, Straitjackets Magazine