Archive for the ‘marriage’ Tag

The Joys of Marriage for Writers   Leave a comment

 

Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Gavin Broom and Helen R. Peterson.

Writers are a fickle bunch. By necessity, we grow a tough skin, but we can still be sensitive to criticism, especially from other writers. I’ve co-edited projects with other writers with whom I’d been best friends before the project began, and no longer on speaking terms with after. It happens. So just imagine living and working with another writer. Co-editing a transatlantic literary journal. Lots could go wrong in that scenario.

It doesn’t always work, sometimes when one of you gets a story accepted in that journal that NO ONE gets accepted into, the other one can’t help but ask, “why not me?” But it’s nice to have an extra pair of eyes in the house to tell you when you’re getting it right, and wrong. It’s good to live with someone who understands, when you’ve got the notebooks and pens out, when the laptop is turned on, they shut the door, take the kids out for ice cream, and give you your space for a few hours.

Gavin and I have, so far, made it work. We were friends when we started working on Waterhouse together, and we’re still friends. More than friends in fact. We look forward to seeing how our life together is reflected in one another’s writing from now on, and seeing how working so closely together will improve the Waterhouse further.

We invite you to share this journey with us, by keeping an eye on this blog, the Melons and Memory Facebook page, and the Waterhouse Review ( www.waterhousereview.co.uk  ). Let’s enjoy this ride together!

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The Legendary, 2009   Leave a comment

Grandma's underwear

Image by raldski gimo via Flickr

http://www.downdirtyword.com/authors/helenpeterson.html#tp

The Legendary loves me, and I love the Legendary.  In 2009, they published three flash by me, “The Cheating Kind”, “Goin’ Commando”, and “Missy Lee’s Enlightenment”.

The Cheating Kind, well. It’s four sentences, mostly of dialogue, but I think, I hope, it packs a punch when you read it, similar to the shock to the system the protagonist gets when she realizes she is, indeed, married to the cheating kind.

Goin Commando is a Baby Girl story, but instead of the younger, sassy, middle aged Baby Girl, we get to meet the Grandma Baby Girl. It was fun, trying to imagine this character I had created initially in her twenties, then wrote about again in her forties, turn sixty and become Maw-Maw. The story I adapted from something my sister did at the age of five, not me. Honest. I swear.

And Missy Lee owes her name to a good friend of mine with the last name of Lee. Sassy, Southern, and comfortable in her skin. Her actions, however, stem from autobiographical frustration I had with a previous relationship. The beauty of being a writer is, you can write out the things in your life you don’t understand until they begin to make sense.  You can harness your anger and create with it, birthing characters that may reach out to others in your position, give them hope and allow them to see the beauty in themselves.

Sugarpants: the Scrawl Blogazine   Leave a comment

http://www.stwa.net/blog/2010/08/13/drunk-poems-series-helen-peterson/

In my post about Poetic Diversity, I mentioned that I belonged to an online writers’ workshop. That forum, called Scrawl:The Writers’ Asylum, also runs a blog that showcases some of the work of the members.  Last month they posted a poem of mine called “When He is Drunk on Me” in a series of drunk poems by various poets.

Like most creative people when they get together, writers like to riff on one another’s work. Someone writes something, someone else draws on similar experiences, and writes something new. This can continue on with someone else, or the first person can build again on the second person’s work. You see this a lot with musicians, the guitar player puts some chords together, the drummer builds a back beat to carry it, the pianist weaves her own notes in and out. We do the same, just with words.

In this case, it started in a topical thread about what people do when they are drunk, mostly humorous anecdotes came out, but then one brilliant poet and all around wonderful person named Sue Miller posted that when she is drunk she thinks about Wyoming. Then she wrote a poem with a similar title, and posted it in the poetry workshop. From there others posted Drunk poems thinking about other places, and sometimes, like me, about other people.

For me, the word drunk is heavy with the regret of a failed marriage. Being the wife of a full-blown alcoholic meant that moments that should have been beautiful were tinged with ugliness.  It is not a happy poem, it is not a pretty poem. It rips off the scab, hard, and I almost didn’t want it to be posted in a public forum. I was afraid to allow a peek under the covers, so to speak, how people might change their perception of me, of him. But then I thought of the other women out there in the world who might have gone through similar experiences, of wanting to make love, hold their husbands close, feel loved. Instead, they gag on the fumes coming from his mouth, the dirty sweat, the blacking out. I thought, perhaps, it might help them if they come across this poem to know they aren’t alone, that it’s ok to feel disappointed with the way things have turned out.

I hope, as you read this poem, you don’t think less of me. I hope you can fall back on your own good experiences in love and romance, enjoy them, and never take them for granted.

Southword Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword/Issues/18/contents.html

Southword Journal is an online literary zine out of the Munster Literature Center in County Cork, Ireland. Landing a story there was huge for me, because they pay well, and because it was my first Irish publication.

Ireland, especially Dublin, has a special place in my heart, as it was the location of my honeymoon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the marriage will survive, but my love for Dublin will never die. I’m a huge history buff, a bibliophile, so visiting the National Library and seeing the James Joyce exhibit, visiting the Book of Kells, nothing could have topped the thrill of that for me. Dublin is dripping with culture, good people, great food, and so it was a given that I would write it a love poem or two. This one, “The Honeymoon is Over”, morphed from a prose poem to more of a flash fiction piece. Some people will tell you there’s very little or no difference between the two, but, for me, the language I use in flash is more narrative, less descriptive than my prose poems, although if you follow me at all, you know that very rarely do I write anything that doesn’t have a hint of the narrative in it.

So, I wrote a love story to Dublin, and added around the edges a bittersweet, and very personal, tale of a marriage that was doomed from the start, cursed as it was with addiction and codependency on both sides. It’s a victory march, the beauty of letting go, moving on. So, in many ways, it’s not only a love story between a girl and a city, but a love story between a girl and herself as well.

How about you? Is there a place on the map that inspires you for whatever reason? Tell me about it, write about it with love, and discover some new things about yourself along the way.