Rounding Out the Week Two of my Sabbatical

Oh, how I meant to write everyday on this blog or at least every other day, but alas, I have not managed to do so. However, I have managed to write everyday on my own book, and I’ll take that. I’m focusing strictly on Vulcan after having submitted a short story and ignored the “BIG” novel that must pruned, severely so.

Anyway, it feels right to throw myself into the mess of Vulcan and it is a mess, although there is a hint of plot, which is progress for me.

Each day I’ve focused on the story of Millie-Graciella and bringing the giant Vulcan to life in a way that is not cornball. I have found that by making Vulcan cranky it works for me. I imagining a little bit as if (to put it in Hollywood terms) “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” meets “The BFG” and “The Iron Giant.” I promised Norah (years ago now) that  I would try to write a tiny bit of fantasy – NOT MY STRENGTH – but 2016 is about doing things that jolt me from comfort zone(s). And imagining Vulcan coming to life and strolling through Birmingham amuses me and so does a banshee in the loblolly pines tossed into the mix. We also once had a landlord who used to say, “I have good intentions” with a big grin, and so now I have a character called “The Landlord of Good Intentions.” It’s  fun to resurrect him in fiction.

When I’m not writing I am seeing dear friends. We take long walks and tomorrow is a wedding of a beloved friend’s child. I have two friends who are sick, and I’ve been able to spend time with them, especially one, and I’m grateful. I hate that they are sick, but I’m so glad to see them and be with them. I have another dear friend coming to visit from England in a few days, so I feel lucky.

I’ve also spent the past week mourning David Bowie and Alan Rickman. With Bowie, I was too frozen with grief and dread to cry too much, worrying about how my kids would take his death, but with Alan Rickman I wept for him and all my frozen tears for Bowie. I realized how much Rickman’s voice and acting got under my skin. And quite honestly just to show my shallowness, I’ve spent more than a little time raging at why David Bowie and Alan Rickman had to go, and Donald Trump is still here? Whywhywhywhywhywhy? I’m thinking of the meme about God taking the “wrong” sixty-nine-year-old, and if I ran things, which I don’t, I’d have kept Bowie and Rickman here for decades more and sent Trump shuffling off this mortal coil sooner rather than later. He reminds me of the short bully-boys who used to ask me, “How’s the weather up there, Wilt? Skyscraper? Oaf? Moose? Loser! Dog-face!”

But never mind who cares about him? Now I have a date to watch Truly Madly Deeply with Norah, and I plan to listen to “Black Star,” grateful for Bowie’s requiem for us as so many have called it.

And I’ll keep up this blog too. Here are some pictures that have given me hope and distraction and joy along the way.

phantom tollbooth

Norah Lucentio

olive in vegas 1boo radley Olive.JPGellen gilchrist

And finally, words from the wonderful writer, Ellen Gilchrist, who makes me laugh. She held court at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson last August and this is one of the stories she told.

“I went to many, many colleges for many reasons, but mostly because my parents indulged me. My mother just loved me. Just unconditional love for both me and my brother. Love. So I was at Vanderbilt and decided to go to study with a professor of fiction at the University of Alabama for a semester. So I left Vanderbilt and went to Tuscaloosa and I was drinking for at the fraternity boys’ houses for a full two weeks before I learned that professor of fiction was on sabbatical.”

These are her beautiful books: Thank you Wikipedia.


  • The Annunciation (1983)
  • The Anna Papers (1988)
  • Net of Jewels (1992)
  • Starcarbon: A Meditation on Love (1994)
  • Anabasis (1994)
  • Sarah Conley (1997)
  • The Cabal (2000)
  • A Dangerous Age (2008)

Story collections

  • In the Land of Dreamy Dreams (1981)
  • Victory over Japan (1984)
  • Drunk with Love (1986)
  • Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle (1989)
  • I Cannot Get You Close Enough: Three Novellas (1990)
  • The Age of Miracles (1995)
  • Rhoda (1995)
  • The Courts of Love (1996)
  • Flights of Angels (1998)
  • Collected Stories (2000)
  • I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting With My Daddy (2002)
  • Nora Jane: A Life in Stories (2005)
  • Acts of God (2014)



2 thoughts on “Rounding Out the Week Two of my Sabbatical

  1. Hi Kerry! – Wishing you a productive, meaningful, and joyous sabbatical! I am enjoying reading your articles and blog posts. I was in one of your workshops at Vroman’s several years ago where I met Peggy Miley. I love the photos of your pets! We just lost our companion of 14 years in October. He was a bichon frise. A difficult loss. Many blessings!


  2. You’ve inspired me to get off my blog and back to my own book, Kerry! But all of it is writing, and don’t worry, you’re not the only one despairing about Trump and the loss of Bowie and Rickman. It did my heart good to attend a Bowie tribute here in Paris last night, which ended with a rollicking round of karaoke. I had to help a few people out with “Modern Love,” “Heroes” and “Five Years,” and I imagined Bowie truly enjoying the spectacle from wherever he may be. And in terms of hope, we’ve dug up some words by MLK for today that should cheer you up… xx Christine from Antioch


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