November 1st

Today begins National Novel Writing Month. I want to touch something each day – be it blog or book. It’s a struggle at this point in the semester when I’d really prefer to stay in bed and binge on Netflix and watch Gillian Anderson in “The Fall” to see if the Belfast strangler, Paul Spector, is lying or not.

November 1st means the the scariest of all Halloweens for seniors applying to early decision to college. November 1st means no Halloween. My niece, Sidney, is applying early as is Norah. So are some other kids I know.

The deadline is tonight at midnight.

I have been down this college road before. The following essay that I wrote ten  years ago seems so innocent now. But we have two college graduates with Flannery and Lucy, and I imagine one day Norah will be a college graduate too.

And so this is today  in no particular order after a night of very little sleep.

Norah is graduating from high school in the spring, and she will apply to two colleges today. She’s already applied to two. She is taking the lead in all of this with the encouragement of so many wonderful adults and friends in her life.

I am providing food, rides, and fingers crossed that the WIFI stays strong.

Alabama is in a drought and it’s the driest it’s ever been – no hint of rain – the leaves changing to crisp crunchy red, temperatures rising to almost 90 today, which seems cruel.

Where is my chilly damp fall where I can start to feel alive?

Here is a wonderful Joseph Mitchell (not Campbell) essay. I am trying to get my Creative Nonfiction students to approach stories like he did.

“My Ears Are Bent”

To save money this year, we won’t be going back to California for Thanksgiving or Christmas. That feels weird and makes me anxious. Who am I if I don’t go back to California in December with Norah and Olive? Instead, Kiffen will come here. We’ll drive to Chicago to see Lucy for Thanksgiving, and we’ll celebrate Christmas in Birmingham and maybe drive to Nashville or maybe even down to the sea?

Who knows?

I’m trying not to have any expectations. It’s better that way.

I have two novels waiting on me.

Hop the Pond – part of which visits the Bronte Parsonage

Millie-Graciela and Vulcan – a  young girl burns letters to Vulcan as smoke signals when her father faces deportation, which wakes Vulcan up.

I have three picture books waiting on me.

Knock-A-Many Bens – dogs take a walk at the tippy-top of Ireland

Georgia Ivy and the Old Pump Organ – a tall tale of a girl who can play the pump organ while her brother flosses the alligator’s teeth with a string of creeping of quack grass.

The Teardrop Sisters of Bodrum Castle – two sisters who spin glass into tiny bottles to catch the tears of princesses until a Princess Dragon comes along…

I have approximately 40+ UAB smart and funny creative writing students writing writing writing.

I have also have four smart and funny Antioch students writing writing writing.

We’ve had lovely author readings – Joseph Wood, Kim Addonizio, and Dana Walrath.

By far, the hardest part of the readings is getting an audience to show up. We’ve had tiny attentive audiences, although Dana’s workshop brought in close to thirty and she had them writing and drawing with their eyes closed. (More about that on another post.)

But to escape everything, I’ve been listening to A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman on Audible and it’s wonderful, taking me back to the world of the Bronte sisters figuring out how to survive in the world.

Here is a picture of them painted by their brother, Branwell.


That’s it for now. Until tomorrow. Here are some Bronte sister quotes.

“I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free.”

– Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights


“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me:

I am a free human being with an independent will.”

– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre


“I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.”

– Anne Bronte, Agnes Gray

And a song just because by Steve Earle called “Pilgrim,” which seems the right song to play for the first day of November.







6 thoughts on “November 1st

  1. Love this latest Bronte offering; it reminded me of an Australian play I was in in NY a loong time ago. I played Tabitha (Tabby) the housekeeper who raised them after the death of their mother at the birth of Branwell ( If memory serves me.) A sad but well-written bioplay and the playwright came to see it all the way from Downunder.


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