My nine to five job may not have given me all the time in the world to dash off that first novel I dreamed of, but it didn’t stop me from trying. My love for the written word knew no bounds. I studied literature in college, spent a year in England to immerse myself. I worked, making money in any number of jobs through college while reading exhaustively, on my lunch breaks, in the tub, in bed before I turned out the light. It was my religion, the thing that made life beautiful and mysterious and grand. In between what made up my life, I wrote. Probably quite terrible stuff.
I married a boy I met in England and we made our life in Connecticut where I grew up. We both entered the work place, found good jobs, and went down the road all our peers were going down. Weekends, week nights and vacations found me prowling the stacks of used book stores, mooching around library book sales, toting home so many tattered dogeared hardbacks, I could hardly lift my haul. I took classes, joined one writer’s group and then another, attended writer talks. Summer nights found me at The Hill-Stead Sunken Garden Poetry festival in Farmington, CT where the words of Mark Doty and Grace Paley floated over the night air. I flew out to attend The College of the Redwoods Writers Conference in Fort Bragg, CA. The beauty of the area inspiration in itself, I heard Carolyn See, John Dufresne, Lynne Barrett and Cynthia Chinelly speak. Back in those days soaking up all things literary, I went back to England with my English husband to visit family, and managed to sneak in afternoons at the book stores on Charing Cross Road, took the train to Oxford and visited historic English literary landmarks. I was in love with it all, but always standing on the outside looking in.
Maybe that’s the nature of writing, the thing that drives writers to write, that strange sense of dislocation. Once you’re part of the literary establishment (which believe me – I’m not), everything takes on a different hue. It’s quite one thing to study English in college, to fall in love with a whole country because of its language. It’s quite another to find someone who will publish you, to meet deadlines, to fulfill contracts and commitments—to turn what you love into a job.
About eight years ago, after what seemed like forever, my big break came in the realization of my fears. I’d survived disruptions in the work place for years, seen people come and go, holding my breath all the while. I’d moved from department to department, job to job. But then my department was hit with an outsourcing initiative, and I found myself working for a new company. That was just the beginning as turmoil began to mark my professional experience. The end result was what I began to look upon the endless disruption as an opportunity to do what I’d long loved. And thus began my second career, much harder than my life long love affair with words ever hinted!
I’m still in love with books and writing. I’ve met wonderful people who share my passion for writing, who buoy me up through ups and downs. I’m fortunate that my husband loves what he does for a living, that at this juncture, I can also do what I love.
Over the last several years, I’ve written this, I’ve written that. Two short story collections Rapture and Out of the Frame came into being. I have long pieces and short pieces in various stages of completion, working in my favorite medium turning out no easier than all those years in the work place. I am happy that I can now do what I love, even though I have no idea if any of it will amount to a hill of beans!
The first snowstorm of the season, and we’re at the airport, fingers crossed our flight to Tampa, Florida, will, unlike many others that have been cancelled that day, take off. Just our luck, we grumble, the very day we are flying out—but we end up being lucky. Against the odds, our flight stays on schedule and we make it, only twenty minutes delayed due to strong winds. We get in after dark. Florida is cold, in the 50s, but we’re optimistic. We drive over an hour south to Venice, where...More
2017 began expecting bad news any day. My mother-in-law in England was near the end, following a protracted illness. The days were long and dark, snow was falling, a weight hung over us. When we got the call, we planned our return, wrote eulogies and remembered happier days. In biting winds, vans pulled up to deliver flowers and fruit baskets, the doorbell or phone rang, a friendly face or voice on the other side. I was toiling with the final edit of my second collection of short stories. My ...More
If there’s one message from successful writers I’ve incorporated into my life, it’s discipline. Now that I am a writer, I treat it like a job. I may not be religious or regimented about it – for example, I am not averse to meeting a friend for lunch or spending the afternoon with my mother, but my weekdays are mostly devoted to writing. I write from mid-morning to early evening.
Each story is a different experience, but I go through similar highs and lows, doubts as it stalls an...More
The diverse characters portrayed in the stories that make up this collection, whether in flight, trapped or inexorably driven, seek transformative truths that will make them whole. Feelings of dislocation permeate the stories as each character struggles to capture what is missing in their lives, essential to them in ways even they cannot define.
The mysterious forces that shape each quest is motivated by powerful emotion at the center of which is love so uncontainable it canno...More
In these twelve stories, a brain injured young man rebels against his diminished life, a doorman at one of London’s exclusive hotels impersonates a deceased client, a retired banker tries to renew his importance by sculpting and erecting an enormous spire in his front yard, a young wife discovers the betrayal going on under her own roof, and in the concluding story railing against her daughter’s self-destructive life and wasted potential, the grieving mother longs to recapture ...More
has an uncanny way of reaching down inside of her characters and exposing all of their complex desires, hopes and dreams. Whether the small incidental happenings that drive the everyday pattern of our days, or the larger events that overwhelm us and over which we have no control, this author grasps the essential core of what it means to be human and to be alive. As I read through these stories, many of which touch on our desire to love and be loved - to belong to something or someone, I felt an essential sympathy for the characters. For me reading a book is about exploring new worlds, new feelings, and about gaining insight into what it means to be a member of the human race. In this moving and sometimes troubling book, Eliza Sherlock fulfills all of my expectations of what a winning book should contain.
Felicity Harley author of Portraits and Landscape and The Burning Years to be published in April 2017 by Double Dragon Publishing