Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Have To Know What We Feel

Photos taken at Goldsboro reading by Mary Susan Heath


The Wayne County Library in Goldsboro, which hosted me Friday afternoon, Oct 5, to read and sell books, was rewarding in new ways.  Katherine Wood Wolfe, who once studied creative writing with me, had prepared so carefully and decorated for fall and Halloween, laid out cookies and lemonade, gathered in her friends, many from her writing group, and even a rector and a local columnist for the News-Argus.  Their interest and excitement was so reassuring: they bought books, and they want me to come back for my next book.  I could tell that my characters already live in their minds.  Talk about rewarding.  Thank you, Goldsboro folks! 

Back in March, as I worked to prepare for fall readings, signings, reviews, I wrote this poem (below), already feeling that Killer Frost was going to take off.  Now here it goes!  I’ll hope to meet and interest folks at Durham’s South Regional Library next Tuesday, 7 P.M. October 9.  Durham County Library was my stomping ground back in the 80s when I taught Roadmap to Great Literature for New Writers.  It will be like coming home.  Judy


The Telling that Changes Everything XIV.
March 25, 2012

For Margaret and Paul

I wanted fame after my death, not before, but time has ripened both me and my words.
–That Inner Circling Sun XI.  January 16, 2011


I’ve passed a dizzying week and not from the pollen,
which is heavy and everywhere.  The breath of success
is what has me pulled high into a new atmosphere–
purer oxygen but harder to breathe.  The libraries, 
bookstores, mystery websites are drawn to the book
and to me, its author.  I’ve been writing stories since
I was seven; poetry, since thirteen; diary, since fourteen; 
books, since age thirty-seven–half a lifetime ago–
mystery novels since age fifty-four.  I’ve published 
some poems, articles, books, but now my debut
mystery has plunged itself into the surf and begun
to swim far out, to ocean depths I never conceived
were possible for me, for my books during my
lifetime.  So it is.  Not that I won’t be castigated,
scoffed at, dismissed, but I’m used to that.  What’s
new is being this wanted–for my words, my stories,
my truth-telling; in short, for me, the way I really
am.  I’ve rededicated myself so many times to 
my own life purpose: showing love, writing out 
my mind, putting the wisdom of transformation
into my words, helping people see each other 
and the world they live in more accurately,
letting go of stereotypes and hurried, careless
solutions to ongoing, relentless human dilemmas
and suffering. We have to know what we feel,
what we think about ourselves and other people.
We can’t glide through life, or we slip right
over the edge into the abyss and are lost.  No,
we have to make an effort, hear the lonely voice
in our soul, go out on a limb, learn who we are 
and what we’re passionate about, and then fight.
There’s no winning without some pluck and
persistence; some grit and humor.  Then,
when a wind comes along and lifts you, after
all that struggle, that picking yourself up again
every time you fall down, you have to trust it,
let it take you into a whole new place in your 
life and in the lives of other people, a new room 
where communion is frequent and possible,
where people love the characters you’ve 
created and hunger for the wisdom you’ve
locked into words, made alive in stories
they will search out far into the future, long 
after you are dead.  Keep on being who you 
are, doing what you love.  It counted before.
It counts now.  It will always count.  Don’t
worry.  You have what it takes.


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