Dicy McCullough: Writers’ kinship
I met newspaper columnist Joe Hudson at a writing workshop in the fall of 2009. I discovered the workshop while searching the Internet, and was surprised its location was only a few miles from my house. Little did I realize registering for a memoir workshop would change my life in ways I never imagined.
I took the memoir workshop because I thought it would help me with writing my family history. My mom grew up as one of 21 children and over the years has shared numerous stories about her childhood. My goal was to someday get these written down, and this seemed like a perfect time.
The setting for the workshop was an idyllic farm called Weathers Creek, in Cleveland. As soon as I walked up to the front door, I felt like I belonged. The schedule included both morning and afternoon sessions with a homemade meal sandwiched in-between. Ann Wicker, who writes for the Charlotte Observer, was the presenter, and I made sure to take lots of notes. Time passed all too quickly, and before I realized it the clock on the wall said 12 noon. It was lunchtime.
Lunch consisted of a homemade meal enhanced by wonderful company and conversation. I found an empty seat at the table to the left of Joe, and at the time, didnít realize how fortunate I was to sit beside him. We chatted for a while, and then the afternoon session began. Just like the morning, it ended all too soon.
Joe and I attended several workshops together after that, and for whatever reason, we always seemed to sit at the same table. During a workshop in March 2010, I mentioned to him I was a member of a website called Fanstory. Members write material that others review, including poems, stories, essays and novels. Joe writes a column for the Statesville Record and Landmark, so I didnít think he really needed to become a member, but he decided to give it a try.
I had only been submitting poetry on Fanstory up until that time, but Joe encouraged me to start writing short stories. Gaining confidence from his support, the first story I wrote was about a trick Mom played on her dad when she was 7. One unusually hot day, Mom wanted to get out of work picking cotton in the field, so she changed all the clocks in the house to a later time. The only problem with that trick was Mom hadnít learned to tell time yet. As you can imagine, every clock in the house was different. Joe thought the story funny and believed others would like it too. A few months after that, my stories were in the Salisbury Post.
Joe sometimes looks at the world in ways that seem exaggerated, yet his ideas and thoughts often cause a reader to stop and think. One such story ran in the Statesville Record and Landmark last winter. It was about socks and how they take on a life of their own. He questioned, ěWhy is it socks never come out of the laundry together? You can see plain as day they went in together. What happened? Did a sock take offense and escape? Socks are forced into a life of drudgery. Therefore, we shouldnít be surprised when one lone sock has had enough and calls it quits.î
I sometimes wonder how I randomly found the workshops on the Internet. Do you know how big the Internet is? Not only that, but of all people at the first workshop, why was it that I sat down beside of Joe Hudson? Looking back, I see the bigger picture I couldnít see then. For me to step outside my comfort zone and grow as a writer, I needed not only the workshops but also the encouragement of a friend. Joe, with your talent, I hope you become a syndicated columnist someday. As a writer, it doesnít get much better than that. Well, on second thought I guess it could ó the New York Times, maybe?
Dicy McCullough is a childrenís author who lives in Rowan County. Contact her at 704-278-4377 or her website, dicymcculloughbooks.com.