First things first—I hate writing about me.  Really.  There was a time in my life when I wanted the spotlight on stage or in film, but now I prefer to be behind the scenes with a starring role as an observer.  It is positively amazing what you can see if you sit still and watch other people.  The longer you sit the more invisible you become, and sometimes what you witness becomes the seeds for the next story whether a novel, a play, or a shorter work.

I’m a fifth generation Floridian. That’s a rarity I’m told. I no longer live in Florida, but I do visit now and then, but no longer covet the temperate climate and the hint of ocean breezes that stretch far inland if you pay close attention. Frankly, it’s too damn hot. Not that where I live in Georgia is much better.  It’s said a true Southern woman doesn’t sweat but perspires. I say that true Southern woman must be in a hermetically sealed, air-conditioned room with the thermostat set on 62. And while I’m at it my dear Millennial colleagues, if you’re cold put on a sweater. Don’t adjust the office temperature to 78 and assume the, er, older among us won’t notice.  We will, no one wants to see us take our clothes off, and we no longer hesitate using weapons.

I do like to travel, and it doesn’t take much to send me packing, as it were, to see the aurora borealis in Iceland; teach nursing in The People’s Republic of China; attend an opening of a world premiere opera in Thailand; be plucked from the crowd for a whipping by a Magyar horseman in Hungary; take a spiritual pilgrimage to India; surreptitiously dispose of mead in an Irish castle; purposely get lost in Venice; and cringe at the thought of wool sweaters in Norway (see previous paragraph). By the same token I welcome closer destinations such as New York, New Orleans, Asheville, and the flora and fauna in my own backyard. Sometimes I don’t even have to leave the house since my dogs and cats assure a disruption of routine when I least expect it–like stepping on the computer keyboard to turn on iTunes, or letting loose a heart-stopping howl simply because the mood struck.

It’s all special, wonderful, and yes, occasionally difficult. It’s all useful, too. In some form or another I used these experiences in my writing, if not in my ever-changing personal view of the world and all it has to offer. But the publishing world changed, my parents and many close friends died, and I was sent adrift save for my work on a disaster medical team and my eventual pursuit of a PhD.  Now I’m writing again, and have discovered that it’s still hard to do. “Grist for the mill,” as a friend of mine used to say. I hope I’m up to the task.