Category Archives: Writing

Thank You, Peggy Lou, Day 6


I’m a lucky person. My life is full of memorable, fascinating, positive people and any one of them is worthy of a blog, but rather than having someone special enter my life this year, someone special left it. So, I would like to write about her. And I’ll try to keep it brief and relevant, because that’s part of what she taught me.

Peggy Fielding was hitting the mid-century mark and starting her life over when I met her. Not too long before that she had gotten a divorce, moved halfway around the world and thrown herself headlong into being the writer she had always dreamed of being. And typical of Peggy, she was sharing her adventure, her knowledge and her passion with the friends she made along the way. I was invited to join a writers roundtable she conducted weekly, where she served as moderator, editor and guide, using her skills as a teacher to inspire and educate. She taught the assembled group how to edit ourselves, how to listen to others and offer positive critiques, and how to strengthen plot, pacing, dialogue and character development in our own work. She taught me how to craft an idea into a finished book that a publisher would buy. And then she told me it was time for me move on and give up my place at the table to someone who needed it. She kicked me out of her roundtable but not out of her life.

But before she did that, she took raw talent and crafted it into something that would sell. She gave me my writer’s wings and taught me how to fly. And she did the same for so many other writers that it’s impossible to count them all. She was one of the most successful and influential people I’ve ever know, as a writer, as a teacher and as a person. And to her last breath, she was Auntie Mame in the Midwest–colorful, creative, dramatic, and inspiring–and kind and caring and supportive. From all of us to you, Peggy Lou, we will never forget you and we will never be able to thank you enough. 


Music with Meaning

Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar solo or singing anything. Blues saxophone, especially when it evokes images of streetlights on rain-slicked pavement sometime after midnight. And anyone who sounds like Leonard Cohen singing anything, but especially the songs that make you think of dark, lonely nights filled with the echoes of regret. Music is the thing that reminds me that being alive doesn’t always mean you’re always happy, that growing as a human being really does hurt sometimes, and that if you’ve never done something you are sorry for, then you’re being too damned careful.

Music is emotion, and because I’m a writer, music becomes images and mood, and that becomes people and stories. So for me, music is much more than a song. It’s a door to a world that belongs to someone else, and when I walk through that door, I am in someone else’s shoes, feeling his emotions and telling his story. Music is magic, and the people who write it and perform it are magicians. And I thank them for the world they open to everyone who listens.