This past Tuesday night I spoke at Chris Maw’s monthly social Words and Wine which brings authors and readers together in an informal setting for food, wine, and friendly interaction. My thanks to a friend of many moons, Fred Quattlebaum of Modern Family Asset Management, for sponsoring the event and to musicians Marty Lopez and Julien Kaprino for providing great entertainment. I was invited to talk about my newest book, Four Ticket Ride, but whenever I speak about my writing, my thoughts turn to truth and equality.
I read while…
…Pretty’s smile sells books!
At her press conference this past Saturday following her loss in the finals at Wimbledon, Serena Williams was questioned about why she lost. Although she tried to say her opponent played a brilliant match, the members of the press wouldn’t let it go. They asked her if she thought her lack of match play in 2019 had hurt her, whether her role as a mother took too much time away from her tennis, and finally someone said they heard Billie Jean King wondered if she spent too much time supporting equal rights or other political issues.
Serena’s quick response to that question was “The day I stop supporting equality is the day I die.” I can identify with her answer because I’d like to believe my actions to support equality and social justice are two of the dominant forces of my life.
My first understanding of how it teels to be treated as a second class person came at an early age and became the impetus for my lifetime support of equality, too. My dad gave me the vision of looking at the whole world as my territory. Nothing should be impossible if I set goals and then worked hard to achieve them. There were no limits, according to him. When I entered the work force at the age of 21 in 1967, I learned very quickly that there were, indeed, limits.
Limits were imposed by powerful men in positions of leadership in the places I worked from Houston, Texas to Seattle, Washington to Columbia, South Carolina – men with tanned skins and silver hair who sat behind large impressive oak desks, men who saw me despite my impeccable credentials as lesser than my co-workers whose singular good fortune was that their gender and the color of their skin made them superior to me in the eyes of my bosses.
It was a rude awakening for me to find out that my dad had been wrong. But that rude awakening changed my life as I took part in the battleground for ratification of the equal rights amendment here in South Carolina in the 1970s, my involvement in the civil rights movement in Columbia in the 1980s and eventually coming to the most passionate cause of my life: the LGBTQ movement for equality in the 1990s. I want to be able to say with Serena that the day I stop supporting equality is the day I die.
For me, writing has been my platform for supporting equal rights during the past 13 years. For ten of those years, I have had the most fun as a blogger on my wordpress blog I’ll Call It Like I See It. When I finish a blog, usually after many re-writes, all I have to do is click on the word publish and my words fly through cyberspace to readers who either choose to follow me or randomly read my posts whenever a topic interests them. One observation I’ve made about my readers is that you all are far more interested in Pretty than you are in my political commentaries.
I saw a segment about the author, vlogger and you tube super star John Green on Sixty Minutes this past Sunday night. John Green, the author of the Fault in our Stars and a ton of other titles has a Twitter following of more than 5 million. My blog, I’ll Call it Like I see It, on the other hand, has 1,700 followers. Thank goodness my daddy also offered me the good advice of never comparing myself to others. Some people will be better off and some people will not, but that’s not how we are measured. In spite of that advice, I will do a small comparison.
I am thrilled that in the first 6 months of 2019, I’ve reached people in more than 60 countries from Argentina to Vietnam through 36 posts with nearly 5,000 hits. My top five countries for followers are the US, the UK, India, Canada and France. Small potatoes to John Green, but quite an amazing audience for a little girl from deep in the piney woods of Grimes County, Texas who grew up in a time where her family’s only communication device was a two party telephone line that her grandmother on her daddy’s side used for spying on her neighbors.
Truth telling is a lost art. Honesty is no longer a virtue nor is it admired by everyone we come in contact with. Nonfiction writing lacks the pop and sizzle of fiction, although I like to think sometimes it’s a close second.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the scene where the tortured son Brick played by Paul Newman discussed his problems with his father Big Daddy played by Burl Ives. Brick blamed his alcoholism on mendacity which he claimed affected everything in the universe but especially the family he came from. Big Daddy wasn’t so sure about that claim, but I have to say Brick just might have been on to something powerful. I was so impressed with this idea that I devoted a chapter I call Human Frailty and Mendacity in my latest book Four Ticket Ride to the concept.
Ideas for writing come to me in random places, but what I can promise you is that I try to bring truth telling to every piece I write.
P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who bought my books from Pretty Tuesday night – we almost sold out! I loved meeting you all and look forward to seeing you again in November.
P.S.P.S. Thanks to our friend Saskia for taking pictures.