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Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Speak Out: Things Come When They Come...For a Reason

by Sioux Roslawski

I just finished South of Broad this morning. It's the first novel by Conroy that I've read (and yes, I can already hear you muttering under your breath. No, I've never read Prince of Tides or The Great Santini but I have seen the movies. No, I can't explain why it took so long for me to read one of his novels. No, I can't tell you why this book called to me from a thrift store shelf, compelling me to buy it.)

I can't tell you why I picked this Conroy book to begin with, nor can I tell you why I started it at this point in my life, when I have several other books on my “must read” list. I really can't explain it, but I'm so glad I took the plunge, made the small investment, and read it now ...because I needed this particular book now.

Let me fill you in on some recent writing tidbits about me. I finished a NaNoWriMo (it actually took two years' worth of NaNo to do it) and thought it was so ready for some beta readers as soon as I finished typing the last word, that I printed off all 158 pages of tightly-typed text and handed it to them. (When you read “so ready,” read it with a voice dripping with crazy delusion and childlike denial.) Four of the first five readers threw it back in my face, saying essentially “There are some worthwhile scraps, so scrap most of it and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.” The fifth is still doubled-over and retching in the corner ...

As soon as the feedback began tumbling out of their mouths, I saw my WIP through more objective, realistic eyes. In my heart, I knew it needed a major overhaul. However, I was directionless when it came to the major thread of the story—the thick hunk of yarn that would make this yarn worthy of reading.

But then it came ...and Pat Conroy waited until almost the very last page to give it to me, like a gift. A “conversation” that Leo was having with Eugene Haverford included a question—just four words long—that hit me like a lightning bolt. Immediately, I knew how my manuscript would be woven together. I knew I was going to include the same question at the end of my story, thanks to Conroy.

And best of all, I knew I now had the nudge to get some serious momentum going.

Things often happen the way they do and with the timing they do for a reason. I could have read this book about life and about healing six months earlier or a six months later, and it might not have seared me like it did

Read widely. Read voraciously. Be open to what you can absorb like a sponge. You never know where inspiration—or a nudge—will come from.

* * *
Sioux Roslawski has recently become a fan of Pat Conroy and plans to read more of his work. (She's loved Jodi Picoult and Sandra Dallas and Alan Paton for a long time.) By day she is a third grade teacher. In the early morning and late at night, she's a freelance writer. Her stories have appeared in around ten (okay, nine) Chicken Soup for the Soul collections and several Not Your Mother's Book books. You can find more of her writing at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



  1. I finished "The Prince of Tides" on New Year's Day, 1989. (I keep a book journal.) Lo this quarter century later, I can't even really remember what it was about. Two brothers or something. I know i really liked it at the time. (I've never seen the movie cos I hate Streisand. I did see the movie version of The Great Santini.)

    Anyway, you're so right about books that appear at exactly the right time. I am an avid but not a fast reader, and so books can sit on my shelves for years before I get to them. In recent years, I almost never read novels written by men anymore, but in 2010, something inspired me to grab Robert Girardi's "Madeleine's Ghost" off the shelf where it had sat for a decade and a half, and it ended up being one of my half dozen favorite novels ever.

    Right now I am reading a novel called "Evening News" by a woman named Marly Swick. I got it from a book club ages ago, and had almost started it a couple of times before turning to something else. Anyway, I am about 2/3 through it and love it. We shall see if it stays wonderful all the way through.

    Books, like teachers (!), seem to appear when the student is ready.

  2. I love how the universe knows just when you need something... and I'm excited to know the thread to your story!

  3. Inspiring post! So glad to hear things are clicking for your WIP, and you've made me want to take a trip to the library.

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  5. I've read lots of Conroy and enjoyed most of it. Read South right after we returned from Charleston. Certain books do mean more at certain times and some books are meant tone read more than once.

  6. Sioux, it's great to know this book came along (or you chose to read it) at the exact time you needed it. Like Lynn, I'm anxious to know more about the connection between Conroy's novel and your WIP. I haven't read Conroy's book yet, but I'll definitely pick it up . . . and I look forward to reading your completed novel some day soon, too!

  7. Love this post, Sioux. Made me chuckle more than once:-) I think patience is crucial for a writer, and then embracing an insight when it comes is the bonus!

    You're probably done or near done with your school year...enjoy your summer!

    Kay Rae

  8. Shay--Girardi's book made your top 6? I am going to have to check it out at the library.

    Yeah, destiny sometimes graces us with something that is immediately wonderful...instead of something that doesn't appear to be great, but ends up perfect for us at that point in our lives.

    Lynn--When it's finished (for the third time?) you will be one of the first...

    Tammy--Thanks. And Shay recommended a couple of books as well. I think I'm going to start by looking for Girardi's book...

    Claudia--You are right. There are some books I've read many times over the last 3 or 4 decades...they are THAT good.

    Dianna--It might not strike you the way it did me, but I'd be interested in hearing what your opinion is. (I'd recommend Leonard Pitts Jr.'s "Freeman" as one of my favorites in the last five years of reading...)

    Kay--I am finished with third graders but I'm now working with graduate students--kind of the best of both worlds.

    Thanks. Often, I lead with a humorous foot--rarely am I completely serious. You too--have a great summer, whatever that entails for you.

  9. Inspiration is fleeting. It's a gift. Seize it. Leverage it. Acknowledge the giver -- whether he be an author, a bird, a dog, a stranger on the street or an elevator. Just give a nod, to the universe and say thank you. You're already well on your way to good karma and good writing.

  10. Jean--I plan on seizing it. Thanks for the encouragement...

  11. Anonymous11:01 AM

    I've never read anything by Pat Conroy, so you aren't alone. Well, technically, you now HAVE read something by Conroy and I haven't, so technically I'm the one alone who . . . okay, never mind. You get the idea. I agree with you that things come to us for a reason and if all the stars align we're open enough to receive the message. Sort of like the saying, "When the student is ready, a teacher will appear." I'm happy to hear you found inspiration (that is a Bit-o-Bliss to be sure) from an unexpected source. Serendipity is never to be taken for granted, and you've made it clear you're grabbing tight and using what you learned. Can't wait to read you book one day.

  12. Lisa--Yes, serendipity is a wonderful thing.

    As far as my and me both. ;)

  13. Sioux, great post. Right place-right time, it was an eye opening gift, I'd say. Can't wait to see your revision. I too have not read Conroy, but now intend to.

  14. Linda--Thanks.

    Yeah, me too (as in, I can't wait to read my revision as well).

  15. I'm chiming in, too, as someone who's never read Conroy. (I'm actually surprised and happy to see that neither Lisa or Linda have, either!) I started one of his books years ago and just couldn't get into it. I don't even remember the name of it. I HAVE seen the movie, The Prince of Times, but it was a long time ago. And Fireblossom, I'm sorry you hate Streisand, because it was a great movie! And, Jean Jeannie, I love everything you said about Karma and the universe, etc!

  16. I've only read Conroy's nonfiction and adore his writing-- very lush (yay for adjectives!). This is a great reminder. Timing is everything and happens at its own pace, for sure. Thank you!

  17. But the four word question...what was it????

    Critter Alley


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