Yesterday I learned that a writer friend is not doing well. I've never met Billy Ray Chitwood in person, but I think of him as a close friend because of his books and blog. Isn't that how most of us know each other?
Through our writing, we give of ourselves. We share tidbits of our life, our dreams, and our sorrows through our characters. One way or another, these fictional people come to life because of our personal journey. Sometimes we even sell a book.
Today I honor my friend and all writers, who in silence pound away at a keyboard and create different worlds. I'm grateful for each of you. At times you have brought me to tears, other times to a dreamy world, and always to a place in time that I've not visited before.
I invite you to enjoy some glimpses into one writer's life -- Billy Ray Chitwood.
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
Wish I could put a 'smiley face' on my life and struggles, but I must be truthful. I came into the world as a 'blue baby', born in a clapboard house up a muddy lane in a sawdust hamlet of rural Tennessee. It was the aftermath of a big depression. Poverty was everywhere, as were malaria and broken homes.
I'm rather fond of a phrase I used in my memoir: I ate a lot of emotional soup as a kid and have been trying all my life to digest it. The broken home, family, the times, the world were vague message carriers at the time. There were emotional and physical abuses by an itinerant father. There was a strong and hard-working mother who tried to keep the family together, working as a telephone operator by day, in war assembly plants at night, and as a boarding house cook. She was a wonderful mother.
- Writing is my therapy. I find pieces of me on and between the lines of what I write. Writing for me is as much about finding those loose ends of my life smack in the middle of a sentence or paragraph as it is writing a polished piece of prose that readers will enjoy reading. Nothing gives me more pleasure than grabbing a word or phrase that says exactly what I want it to say. It's difficult for me to imagine good writing coming without passion.
- As a kid I played around with words, writing silly poetry, mimicking the famous singers of the day - loved to sing. After a ten-year marriage came to an end, I played with the 'lotus eaters' for a number of years – booze, gin mills, piano bars, pretty ladies, and lonely motel rooms...wrote my maudlin poetry on bar counter napkins and motel stationery...my 'self-pity period'... In college the English Romantic poets – Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge - appealed to my emotional hunger, as did the group known as the 'Naturalists': Emile Zola, Thomas Hardy, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Jack London, et al.
- About his first book: A dear actress friend of mine was brutally murdered in Phoenix, AZ. She was twenty-six years old, a mother of two small children, and had her entire life in front of her. Her body was found in the desert six weeks after her disappearance and savage murder, ravaged by the summer heat and denizens of the desert. My first book, PROBABLE CAUSE, was published and went out of print. That book became the first 'mystery' book out of six of the 'Bailey Crane Mystery Series' (Books 1-6) – AN ARIZONA TRAGEDY – A BAILEY CRANE MYSTERY (Book 1 of 6). The book was my way to say goodbye to a lovely lady whose life was cut short by an evil predator...the killer has never been caught, so far as I know, and the case remains a 'cold case' for the Phoenix Police Department.