“We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it.”
October brings more than golden leaves falling onto our browning grass. It’s more than pumpkins, chrysanthemums, and Halloween costumes. Children of all ages will soon parade to our doorsteps in the centuries-old tradition of beggars, dressed to scare or please us.
Autumn takes its cue from Celtic Paganism, which believed fall is the time when the barrier between the living and dead is at its thinnest. Hallows Eve, and the days that follow, are when we honor the dead. All Saints Day (November 1) All Souls Day (November 2) and Día de Muertos; The Day of the Dead (November 1 & 2).
During Día de Muertos, families gather to celebrate deceased loved ones, bringing food and flowers to graves, visiting, and telling stories about their ancestors. Consider this! If telling stories is one way to honor ancestors, imagine what writing stories can do!
Imagine yourself as a descendant. You find a wooden chest in the attic. Inside, you discover a diary, letters, or scribblings by a relative who preceded you. You might remember this person. Or she might be a stranger. Either way, you read her words and hear her voice and imagine this person living an ordinary day.
Now imagine a descendant finding your stories and poems in a chest. She sits down and starts reading. In the words, she hears your voice, sees the details of your life, and makes connections between you and herself. Based on the details you’ve provided, she’ll develop ideas about you, based on what you eat, who (or what) you love, or what worries you.
Writing our lives can give each of us a smidgen of immortality.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR—
Two curious cows at the Loretto Motherhouse Farm, photographed by Kimberly Crum
On Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, we’ll retreat to the Loretto Motherhouse Farm for our “Nature Meets Nurture” weekend. Join us, overnight or for the day. The retreat begins at 10 AM on Saturday and ends at 5 PM on Sunday. At this moment, there is still some overnight space available. Learn more and register here.
We will not have our regular October meeting.
We will stay at the Knob Creek Retreat house, which overlooks one of the two lakes on the property. Day options on Saturday or Sunday are $40 for one day or $75 for both. Fees for overnight guests are $125 for a single room or $85 for a double room (including the retreat cost). The house is large with desks in bedrooms and tables and gathering places inside. There are walking trails and two lakes, a lovely labyrinth, many places to ponder, and plentiful wildlife (also cows). If you are a bird watcher, bring your binoculars. Fees help pay for the retreat house, the Saturday night dinner, and a continental breakfast on Sunday.
Our next meeting will be Tuesday, November 14 at 6:30 PM, at the Highland-Shelby branch of the library at 1250 Bardstown Rd. in Mid-City Mall. There is ample off-street parking outside the mall. It’s not too early to think about what you might want to bring to our meeting. Persons interested in receiving peer critiques on November 14, please bring 7 printed copies of the manuscript you want to share. No more than 1300 words for prose or two pages of poems. If the prose piece you’d like for a critique is longer than 1300 words, please bring an excerpt.
Mark your calendar for our WWW holiday party on Tuesday, December 12. Details forthcoming.
MAGIC HAPPENED AT OUR CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS GET-TOGETHER!
Here are a few photos of Women Who Write celebrating our participation in the Give for Good fundraiser at Captain’s Quarters, in the charming Stone Room on September 14. We celebrated our community and enjoyed readings by our guest author, Ellen Birkett Morris, who read from her award-winning short story collection, Lost Girls, Member Holly Hinson read an excerpt from her personal essay, “Ramble On,” published in the Louisville Literary Arts Writers Block anthology. These coming-of-age stories were rich with character, detail, humor, and yearning. All this would have been enough . . .
And then it happened! In a random drawing— “The Greatest Two-Minutes of Giving,” sponsored by Churchill Downs— our name was drawn from persons who donated between 5:15 and 5:17 p.m. “Wow!” is inadequate to describe our reaction. This bonus of $10,000 is thanks to one woman. Our $10 donor knew very little about WWW, except that her mother is a member. Proves that a small contribution can make a big difference.
Our windfall plus the donations of members and friends, means we can expand programming without worrying about breaking the bank. We can pay respectable artist fees for visiting writers, maintain a low membership fee, offer scholarships, and add new programming.
Thank you to the Louisville Community Foundation for your annual Give for Good fundraiser. You made magic happen for our tiny nonprofit!
THE WRITING PROMPT
Writing about Ancestors
“When we feel haunted, it is the pull of our own home we’re experiencing, but a more upsetting possibility is that the past has become homeless, and we are offering it a place to inhabit in the present.”
Writing about ancestors requires us to speculate on the details of a life, beginning with our imaginations. The story or poem we write builds an image or idea of a deceased person. A photograph might be enough to begin pondering. Here are three short readings that might inspire you to scribe a story about someone you knew, or someone you never met.
Here are some essays that might inspire your writing. The first two, from Brevitymag.com, are anchored in the memory of a cottage and a camera, respectively.
- “Journey’s End,” by Susanne Paola Antonetta
- “Siberia, Atlanta” by Jessica Handler
An exploration of a grandfather’s life through photos and a camera left behind.
The third reading features ten very short essays, all in response to objects. “The incredible stories of 10 objects, chosen and told by you,” from The Historic New Orleans Collection Museum.
Novelist Flannery O’Connor wrote, “The longer you look at an object, the more of the world you see in it.” A tangible object will lead to a story!
Here is your prompt— Think about an ancestor, one you remember or one you never knew. Base your prose or poetry on a photograph, an object, or a place inhabited by that person. Not knowing the person gives you permission to invent details. In fact, speculation is a wonderful skill for memoir writers!
For those of you fiction writers, consider having your character discover an object or photograph, or find herself in a place once inhabited by the person.
Poets write truth as well as fiction. So, you can go any way you wish!
WE WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR WRITING LIFE
All members are invited to submit to the Women Who Write web blog! See the most recent blog entry by Janet L. Boyd, “Never Underestimate the Power of Writing Women’s Stories.”
We accept prose and poetry. No more than 2,000 words, please, Publishing on our blog will expand your writing platform. And you’ll help WWW show off the variety of talents within our writing community! Browse our web blog now! Write to Kim at and tell us about your story, poem, or essay—the one you’ve written or the one you want to write! Expect suggested edits, for flow and clarity.
Attend an author reading, sponsored by the Spalding University MFA program, featuring poet, author, and professor, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who will read and discuss her epic award-winning novel, The Love Song of WEB Dubois at the LFPL main branch at 301 York Street, on Wednesday, November 15, 6 p.m. Tickets are free but must be reserved.
The Eunice Williams Prize for nonfiction, sponsored by HerStry literary blog, is open October 2, 2023. Find out more here.
The Jelly Bucket journal requests submissions of prose or poetry by neurodivergent writers: General submissions are $2 through 12/1. Special section (no fee) thru 12/15. jellybucket.submittable.com/submit
Sand Hills Literary magazine, in print since 1973, is thrilled to announce submissions are OPEN for a special online Fall issue. “Our theme is the fantastical, unusual, and macabre. Speculative, thrilling, eerie, gothic, supernatural, or anything in between.” Both emerging and established writers and artists are encouraged to submit. Get creative. Get to writing. Submit your prose, poetry, and art by November 7th. sandhillslitmag.com/submit/
The Jelly Bucket journal requests submissions of prose or poetry by neurodivergent writers. General submissions ($2) thru 12/1. Special section (no fee) thru 12/15. jellybucket.submittable.com/submit
Sand Hills Literary magazine, in print since 1973, is OPEN for submissions for a special online Fall issue. “Our theme is the fantastical, unusual, and macabre. Speculative, thrilling, eerie, gothic, supernatural, or anything in between.” Both emerging and established writers and artists are encouraged to submit. Submit your prose, poetry, and art. sandhillslitmag.com/submit/. Deadline November 7, 2023.
Submit a story to Landslide Lit(erary) on Medium.com, a publication edited by two WWW members—Kimberly Crum and Bonnie Omer Johnson. We will provide developmental and editorial suggestions. Here are the submission guidelines.
Duotrope is a fabulous resource for writers who want to publish in literary journals and anthologies and enter contests. You will receive a listing of submission opportunities in your inbox, specifically for your genre. Learn more here. Cost is $5 per month or $50 per year.
ECOTONE is an award-winning literary magazine “dedicated to reimagining place, “welcoming work from a wide range of voices. Open Submissions
Chestnut Review is reading both poetry and prose submissions between July 1-Sept 30 for the Winter Issue Open Submissions
Thimble Literary Magazine is primarily a poetry journal, but we happily publish plenty of short prose and art. Next submissions August 1 through September 30. Thimble Literary Magazine: Open Submissions
Folly is an international journal of poetry, prose, and art (published in New Zealand). Submissions are year-round. “We are drawn to dark humour, satirical takes on the social scene, and starkly honest accounts of ordinary life. Diversity is celebrated, adversity is welcomed, and, above all, personal expression is championed. Open Submissions
Green House wants poetry, short stories, creative essays, and flash fiction for bi-monthly digital issues. The website is worth a visit! Clever, unique, and informative!
Green House: Open Submissions
Sad Girls Club: Open Submissions —”We want to see writing that explores what it means to be human. Make us laugh until our stomachs hurt, ugly cry, and everything in between. We accept poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and creative nonfiction.”
HerStry literary essay/memoir blog seeks to empower women through their writing. Submissions for general admissions are ongoing. Submissions for monthly themed issues are by the end of each month. Find out more here! The next theme is “Winter.” The deadline is November 1. HerStry also accepts essays of any theme all year round!
Poets and Writers has an extensive list of literary magazines to which you can submit. Learn more here.
N+1 literary journal accepts new fiction, drama, personal essays, criticism, and translation on a rolling basis. Find out more ">here.
Gionsko Literary Journal. Gionsko means, “to perceive, understand, realize, come to know; knowledge that has an inception, a progress, an attainment. The recognition of truth from experience.” Accepting short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, social justice, and literary insights. Learn more here.
Sky Island Journal is an online journal that publishes emerging and established writers. Prefers flash fiction and creative nonfiction (less than 1,000 words) and poetry. Rolling submissions. Inquire here.
Halfway Down the Stairs publishes quarterly themed issues of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews. Learn more here
Consider writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Some upcoming themes— The Power of Positive Thinking, Angels, Dogs, Cats, and Make Me Laugh! Learn more here
Consider submitting to this online magazine of personal essays—Dorothy Parker’s Ashes has as its tagline, “Brazen words by witty dames. Everything true. More or less.” https://www.dorothyparkersashes.com/the-writing-life
Thimble Literary is “based on the belief that poetry is like armor. Like a thimble, it may be small and seemingly insignificant, but it will protect us when we are most vulnerable.” The online journal publishes quarterly. Find out more here!
The Fictional Café is a unique literary venue inviting fiction and poetry. This international platform does require membership (looks like it’s free) to submit. They describe themselves as a Coffee Club, and their editors and staff as baristas. Here is their invitation— “Want to submit a short story or poetry? A chapter from a novel-in-progress?”
The Blue Mountain Review publishes poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, on a rolling basis, for publication in this quarterly print journal. “Blue Mountain Review is a Southern publication, but it draws no boundaries or borders on that interpretation. It seeks pieces that boldly create something new.”
The Keeping Room is an online magazine for women writers, poets, and artists, interested in “Women’s Wisdom, Lessons Learned, Self-care, Bodies, Relationships, and Community.” Find out how to submit here.
SUPPORT OUR WRITING COMMUNITY!
Become a member (or re-member)—As a community, WWW strives to nurture your writing life. We hope you choose to join or renew as a member and participate in our monthly meetings, author talks, retreats, and workshops. Our membership chair will notify persons when they are due to renew. Regular annual membership is $50. Student annual membership is $25. Membership entitles you to discounts on workshops and retreats.
Attend our monthly member meetings on the second Tuesday of each month for a brief program, peer critiques, and conversations about the writing life. Not currently a member? You can attend two meetings before deciding to join.
Love your writing life!
The Leadership Team
Kim, Alisa, Megan, Janet, Irene, Ashley, and Katie
(NOTE: Two of these leaders—Kim and Alisa— will complete their terms on December 31. Please let us know if you’d like to be on the leadership team!)