I am a child of Appalachia (born in Kentucky, raised in West Virginia and Tennessee). I grew up without television and was encouraged to read, write or draw to fill the time when I was not in school. There was a black and white television in the household it simply was not viewed as an entertainment source. It was only turned on to capture the evening news. (I am an avid news junkie thanks in part to this well-heeled family tradition).

With little money and plenty of time, reading and writing became a passion that allowed me to discover and dream about worlds far beyond my humble existence. I grew quite fond of time spent this way. So much so that my mother in later years would reflect that it was difficult to discipline her daughters by sending them to their rooms as it simply wasn’t a punishment. In our eyes to send us to our room to do what we loved was a gift.

Storytelling was a pastime that unfolded like everyday conversation for the adults in my world. I quickly learned to listen to these stories for the wonder they promised and the honesty they foretold. My love of words is rooted in this upbringing.

Journaling remains a key component to my understanding of the world around me and in my personal growth. My constant companion is a small leather bound journal…tucked into my purse, placed strategically on my night stand or in the glove box of my automobile. Note taking, either in reflection or to document a thought or idea, is second nature to me. It is a habit that I have but only once put down and that was due to a broken index finger on what I call an ill-equipped attempt to play intramural softball during college. Since then, I approach all participation in sports with caution so as to not interrupt my ability to write.

I launched the Word Strings project as a personal challenge in a blog series to construct words into meaningful narrative phrases. I had committed to a food blog some years earlier with simple recipe sharing experiences in 250 words or less. I saw the endeavor to write prose in very much the same vein. Trust me when I tell you they are not the same, not even close. The task to create prose was very different and it took a great deal of effort on my part to feel confident to even make a post. This was supposed to be poetry, quotations and literary passages rolled into one nice, neat little package. And it wasn’t.

My solution to grasping more confidence in prose was to join a local Women Writers Group. This was a big leap for me. I was accustomed to creating privately. Now I was expected to bring and present recent work to each meeting of the group so that five or six writers, better writers, novel writers at that, would review and constructively critique my quibby little prose. The experience was far from ugly. In fact, the collective trust of these women made me approach writing in a wholly different way.

Where did this project land at its conclusion some 10 years later? The quotes, phrases and longer poetry of the series were published via Lulu, Inc. and are intended to provide a reference point for when it is difficult to place meaning around a situation in life or to express some emotion. Volume 1 which was released in September of this year wraps around the central themes of community, transition and discourse. This particular series purposely seeks out to recognize life’s imperfection.

“Life is not a perfect circle. It is as important to acknowledge and accept the jagged edges of living as it is the smooth, sleek lines of our everyday existence.”