The Story, the Story, the Story . . .

As I become comfortable in what I consider my third career (quilting industry business owner first, nonprofit advocate second, and now, novelist), I think often of my early love of narrative, the joy I remember from childhood at the very concept of stories. That mere words are capable of creating people one can know, places one can be, boggles my mind to this day.

I recently dug through a box of memorabilia to find a photo I hadn’t looked at more than once since my quilting career began. There I am beside my mother Dorothy Graham as she reads to my brothers and me. My older brother (an athlete all his life) looks like he’d rather be outdoors. My twin (the contented one in the family) sits contentedly on my mother’s lap. But look at the little girl! Look at that face. How much more into a story could a child of three be?

I spent the past weekend in Chicago, enjoying StoryStudio Chicago’s first-ever writers conference, hanging out with writers including my Washington Island writer friend Mari Anderson and the wonderful Rebecca Makkai, whose latest novel THE GREAT BELIEVERS (book report coming soon) I read in five days, my heart wrenched repeatedly. I absorbed wisdom at author panels and learned more about the publication process during “How the Book Sausage is Made.” A highlight was confirmation from Makkai’s agent Duvall Osteen that my own agent Stephany Evans is top drawer.

StoryStudio’s first conference was my own first experience at a gathering of writers. In general sessions, in the individual classes on my schedule, and even at the reading and literary smackdown at a neighborhood bar Saturday night, I took the time to scan the room, to get a good look at the other animals in my same zoo—other humans for whom the story is everything. Hopefully, some of them were lucky enough to have a mother like mine who (next to my father and us children) loved books better than anything. Whether or not they are lucky enough to have a photo like mine to prove stories thrilled them from the get-go, I know they see themselves in my face.


5 Responses

  1. June
    | Reply

    Ahh, the adventure continues……

  2. Bev Sheeley
    | Reply

    Sweet picture! And how great to have something special to show how much a book meant to you from the beginning….and with your mother and siblings no less!

  3. EWya
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    You are so right. Words at the earliest age do inspire and shape these precious bright minds. Even when they don’t actually know the meaning of the words, the tonation, inflection, and pronunciation of the syllables serve great impact. The fascination with the reader to be able to move their mouths and eyes in rhythm and sync between the pages and the audience is captivating. I so remember these delightful settings with my parents and sibling. I am sure this is why my sibling and I were reading encyclopedias at the age of 3. We traveled the world through this media by spirit before we visited them in person. Thank you for recalling such glorious times. As with my parents, I hang onto every word of your writings. You put your reader where you are.

  4. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    I am truly not a reader of the ‘deep’ stuff. I do like a variety of books, though .. light, funny, some intrigue and some mystery. Some of my earliest memories are of reading, as well as being read to. I spent hours reading to my 2 sons, as well. But no matter the difference between what you and I might read or enjoy, I wish you success and continued good things in your writing career … and I am proud to say I know you!

  5. Jim Graham
    | Reply

    Dearest Sister Marianne,
    Your “athlete” brother in the picture also read to you and your twin on a regular basis. Reading to you most likely filled in the dreary winter days in Iowa or any other time I could not find an older friend to play baseball.
    I have a picture of me reading to you and David. Your expressions are about the same. You were a little older than in the picture you found. I do remember I did more than read to you. I taught you how to read! Naturally, I take great pride in your success in the world of publication, be they “how-tos” for quilters or your new foray into fiction. My pride in this is much like that of a former teacher whose student goes out into the world and does well on something with which you got them started.
    Your Brother Jim

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