"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."~Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1816

Friday, March 4, 2011

Encouraging Words

The weeks are slipping by with no blog post. I have been scrapping around writing newspaper articles though. I’m taking a nonfiction research and interviewing class that has kept me nearly wholly in the mindset of newspaper writing.

I had recent encouragement of my newspaper writing from a prize I won for one of my articles. My article on the demise of a local moms magazine won second place in the Sacramento Press Journalism Open. The prize brought me $500 closer to my laptop and was my first actual payment for writing, if you consider an award a payment.

I mentioned the award to my grandma, “Nanny,” in a telephone conversation recently. She’s 99 and dealing with a mental condition called “aphasia,” a disorder of language comprehension and production. She seems to understand the gist of a conversation but then when it’s her turn to respond she gets it not quite right, using vocabulary incorrectly, or responding about a topic that is related but not on point.

Talking with her about the prize for my writing roused her. She clamored to communicate that she too, was a writer. She too, had stories for telling. This is a well known fact among her large family. She’s a gifted storyteller of her own imagined tales as well as of family stories. She has told me stories in her darkened living room that conjure a picture as bright as a television. I believe she has written down some of her stories. Relatives have also tape recorded her telling stories.

Through and despite her aphasia Nanny was hugely encouraging of my writing. She told me to keep doing it. She said I should get hubby to watch the kids for me so I could do it. She was regretful that she didn’t write more herself.

I gained the impression that despite the differences in our situation she understood exactly my wish to do something outside and apart from my mothering. Perhaps she felt that too. With her mind not able to accurately express itself these days, I can’t be sure. I didn’t take notes during our conversation and I wouldn’t venture to quote her.


  1. congratulations on the award laura! nice piece.

  2. Thanks Emily! I've been enjoying the slices of life with your boys from your blog. Keep 'em coming.