Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Who am I?

Who am I? I’m a sexagenarian who writes.

Being a sexagenarian isn’t as much fun as it sounds. Gravity has taken its toll; parts of me can no longer be described as “perky.” For me and my contemporaries, the sands of time are running out. However, we sexagenarians—having been (pick one) baby-boomers, the Pepsi generation, hippies, free spirits, etc.—are continually redefining ourselves. I have it on good authority (OK—the March 18, 2006 issue of Parade) that 60 is the new 40. We like catchy phrases, so we now identify ourselves as the Sage Group, the XYZ Group (extra years of zest), Grand Years, Age of Dignity, Third Half, Bonus Years, or P.S. Stage (post-sixty). As we age a bit more, we might become Seasoned Citizens, OPALS (older persons with active life styles), Geri-Actives, or eventually SOCs (Septuagenerian to Octogenarian Citizens).

When I hit 60, I decided to blog. I intended to start this blog on January 1. I never got around to it until now. (Sexagenarians like to procrastinate.) I figured if I got it online by May 1, I’d be doing well. I've just made my deadline with a few weeks to spare.

So, what do I write about in this first blog entry? I’ll write about writing.

In 1993, after decades of grading papers and a lifetime of reading or being read to, I started writing. At first I wrote short stories—I’m a five-time winner of the Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and a three-time winner of the Sherwood Anderson Contest—but my writing moment of fame came when I won the 1996 “Worst Western” division of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The B-L is for the worst opening sentence of the novel you haven’t written. Consequently, I am a nationally ranked bad writer. My entry:

Following the unfortunate bucking of his horse when it was startled by the posse's shots, Tex—who now lay in a disheveled heap in the sagebrush—pushed back his sweat-stained Stetson from one deep-set eye, spat a stream of tobacco juice at the nearest cactus, and reflected momentarily that the men approaching him with ropes probably weren't just out for a skip, and—if they were—his freshly broken ankle would have to cause him to decline any entreaties to join them.

In 1999, I received a “Dishonorable Mention” in the Bulwer-Lytton Bad Fiction Contest for this entry:

“Well, Mummy,” replied little Felicity in response to her mother's chiding, “I know for a fact you are lying to me and that I was not left on the doorstep by gypsies, as you are fond of telling me, for gypsies are not in the habit of abandoning infants on the twentieth floor of New York apartment houses, and furthermore there is absolutely no room on the street for them to park their horse and wagon, so—when you are old and in need of custodial care—we shall then see who has the last laugh as I abandon you in a substandard adult care facility.”

I also won a 1999 Hutton Publications “Rotten Romance” prize that paid ten bucks for this bad sentence:

When Fred slipped off his sweater to reveal the sexy slope of his shoulders and confided to me in a voice barely louder than a whisper that I was indeed special, my pent-up longing burst forth, and it was all I could do to contain my desire (the revelation of which might forever destroy his television career and invoke the jealous wrath of Mrs. Rogers, who was rumored to lurk unseen somewhere in the shadows of the neighborhood); and thus I placated my passion by plastering my lipstick kisses all over the TV screen until the glass was all but obliterated under a mass of Revlon’s “Ripe Plum Surprise.”

Thus, my claim to fame is that I’m a nationally ranked bad writer. I currently write a twice-a-month humor column, “Peevish Advice,” for the Smith Mountain Eagle, a weekly newspaper published in Moneta, Virginia. “Peevish Advice” is social commentary disguised as redneck humor. The Eagle actually pays me for doing it. I've also self-published a couple of books.

I live in rural Virginia with a husband, dogs, cats, and horses. I retired from public school teaching in 1997 and am now in my last semester of teaching college. In 1999, I took a part-time one-semester adjunct position at Ferrum College and somehow kept teaching freshman English for seven years. Recently I decided to leave while I still enjoy the job. I’m not getting any younger, and I have other stuff I want to do. The sands of time, etc.

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