Saints and Sinners in Alabama

Posted: April 28, 2014 in World On The Edge

AWSFacebookLogo2013This past Thursday, my husband, George, and I made a weekend trip to Monroeville, AL for the 17th Alabama Symposium of Writers, this year entitled Saints and Sinners. Of course, the title was a call to me. As a Catholic writer, I’m concerned with the struggles of sin set side by side with the mercy of God—and the fact that despite any individual’s sin, God’s grace can actually bring forth a saint.

But more than that: Mark Childress, who endorsed my debut novel, A Hunger in the Heart, was to receive the Harper Lee Award as Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of 2014. And even more, Dr. Wayne Flynt, George’s History professor at Samford who guided his Masters Thesis, was to receive the 2014 Eugene Current Garcia Award for Distinguished Literary Scholar. For these reasons alone, we wanted to attend the Symposium.

As many of you know, Monroeville is the home of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. She only wrote one book. Here’s why:

At the Symposium, George and I caught up with Mark Childress, who is simply delightful, and just plain funny. And my friend, Charles McNair, author of Land O’Goshen and Pickett’s Charge, the epitome of a Southern Gentleman–and who will blurb the back of my new short story collection, Birds of a Feather,  out in July. And the very gracious Dr. Wayne Flynt who, after all these years, actually remembered George. We also met Roy Hoffman, latest book , Come Landfall, with whom I was especially taken, because he was one of the few who actually addressed in his talk the certain spirituality of each individual, and that it came from God; Sena Jeta Naslund, latest book, The Fountain of St. James Court; Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman; Koethe Zan, debut author of The Never List; Robert Inman, The Governor’s Lady; and more, including people attending from all around Alabama and the South–even met a man from Canada who’d been intrigued enough to come all that way for the Symposium.

A few pictures of panelists:

One of the highlights of Event was the showing of a beautiful documentary film produced by Sandra Jaffe of Birmingham. The documentary utilizes the play Our Mockingbird, which was wonderfully performed by students from mostly all white Mountain Brook High School and all black Fairfield High School in Birmingham.

For me personally, one of the primary ideas I took away from the event is how hard it is to be a writer—not that I didn’t already know that. But authors who want to be read must have, not only a talent, but a drive within them to keep writing, despite negative reviews, despite naysayers, despite the doubt one frequently has in oneself–and then be able to allow oneself to be pumped by even the smallest of successes.

The event was held on the attractive campus of Alabama Southern Community College, at the Monroeville Community House, and at the Monroe County Museum in downtown Monroeville—located in the old Courthouse, (replicated in the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird) which almost by itself was worth the trip.

So we came back tired–why this blog is a bit late today—but exhilarated, and with plans to attend another Symposium.

  1. Jim says:

    Thank you for sharing these honest thoughts. I really needed to hear the stuff about the perseverance required to be a writer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s