Remember me telling you that a retired teacher said I should write about what I know. She has been a constant force in keeping me writing ever since. In the late eighties, the teacher had a six weeks writing workshop in the Library. I signed up. At that point, I had written some badly constructed short stories, playing around with the idea of doing more and hadn’t a clue where to start. That’s when the teacher gave me that advice. Nine of us joined that class and had the best time. The teacher gave us assignments on Tuesdays, and Thursdays we brought in a story, read it to the class and got our constructive criticism. By the end of the six weeks, I had some idea of where to begin. My stories centered around my animals. The teacher talked the county seat newspaper into having a writer’s corner. I sent in three of my stories - mistakes and all. My pre fifties Royal manual typewriter didn’t have spell check. Can you imagine those days? Turns out, the mistakes weren’t what caught readers attention. They enjoyed each story’s content.
How did I know that? I wrote a story about a young, Saler bull we bought. The bull had been raised in a feed yard with other bulls. When my husband let this high strung animal out of the stock trailer, he snorted and danced his way around his large pen as he inspected his new surroundings. "Get a feed pan and some corn and feed the bull while I unhook the stock trailer," I was told. I wasn’t in the pen a minute, pouring the corn into that pan, when the bull raced at me. I barely made it over the gate before he skid to a stop and stared at me through the gate. It was clear to me after a couple more narrow escapes that my being a woman was the problem. This bull had been raised by men, and he knew the difference. Making my husband believe my theory was a different story. So I wrote, with tongue in cheek, my story and submitted it to the paper without telling my husband. Did I worry that he might see the story when he read the newspaper? No. My husband skipped over anything that didn’t look interesting to him.
In July during the County Fair, my husband and I managed the sheep producer fair booth. My husband grilled burgers and brats and I worked in the booth. One evening, a man we hadn’t seen for some time stopped to talk to my husband. I was too busy to listen to the conversation. Later, I took a breather and walked through some of the livestock barns. A woman came up to me and asked if I really had cattle or did I just make that story up that was in the Times. I assured her the story was true, and yes, we had cattle. Those four days of fair were hectic and long. Around two o’clock we were finally in bed and up by 5 to get chores done and back to the fairgrounds to set up. As my husband was dozing off that particular night he mumbled to me, "What do you suppose Myron meant when he said to me he saw in the paper we had cattle?" To which I replied, "Don’t know." By the way I took some gratification in the fact that I met up with the couple who sold those stock bulls at the Farm Progress Show. I mentioned the bull’s dislike of me to the woman, and she said she was sure I was right.
Since the Writer’s Workshop, the retired teacher has critiqued and edited my work for me. The latest book I finished this summer, the teacher edited in one day. Not because she usually tries to be that fast or I have become that good, but because she couldn’t put the book down until she saw how it ended. How’s that for a compliment.