Elizabeth McKenzie talks about a writer's life at 2012 Gail Rich Awards

Elizabeth McKenzie talks about a writer's life at 2012 Gail Rich Awards

Elizabeth McKenzie talks about a writer’s life at 2012 Gail Rich Awards

Thank You mica Thank You Milus and thank you to the Cultural Council and all involved who continue to celebrate Gail riches legacy it was here in 2008 in the rio theatre that Salman Rushdie appeared in conversation with Rick level um I was here and someone in the audience asked if he ever experienced failure or the feeling of it and rushed he said when you're a writer working on a novel every day as a failure I wrote this down and to this day this hangs over my desk and so you can probably see how for someone who has that hanging over their desk something like tonight's event is a really nice change of pace um some of the members of my dedicated and valuable writing groups are here tonight and it's these groups represent a very intense process that we share and it's been a long term commitment with them and there's a line I was going to say grappling with each other's naked visions and souls but I'm not going to say that actually um and it's made my writing life possible here and I thank all of you here past and present members of my groups for that I've been thinking about how I felt when I first came to Santa Cruz and why it felt like the place where I'd have the space to figure out what I was doing with myself all those years ago well in fact a lot has happened here for me I've met my husband here I had my two children here and so it's not surprising that this area comes through a lot in my writing um there's actually a story in the current Saturday Evening Post I don't even know if anybody knows it's still being published about Santa Cruz that I wrote and but in order to find something appropriate to express my feelings about my life here I chose instead a little few little tiny segments from my story collections taught that girl to read um it's the very last story and it's kind of where the book ends up um it's a lot has happened and at the end she the character is alone with her son in santa cruz as she's been married in and separated and so i just like to read a tiny bit of it because um it's sort of i think it expresses why I'm here last of our tribe one morning like every morning I walk my son to the corner to catch the bus and then I just kept on going I have to emphasize how uncharacteristic this was I am not the type you see engaged his solo activities jogging by or cycling up an incline my pattern at that time was to struggle out of bed after pushing the snooze alarm three or four times and to throw a sweater on over my pajamas fixing will eggs and toast and dressing him they're not quite awake when he told me his dreams after he took off in the school bus I had walked quickly home and climbed back into bed I didn't sleep the day away however it's like a schoolgirl sneaking out for a smoke I just like knowing it could get away with those few extra moments not accounted for in my room it was a small beach town in central california called rio del mar and i liked walking along the shore pretending we were California Indians pushed to the edge of the continent the rest of our kind had long ago been wiped out we were the only two left we had to find clever ways to survive anthropologists from Berkeley wanted to collect us and study our language but so far we'd kept them at bay we knew they wanted to put us in pants that were too short for us published books full of our secrets we knew we didn't want to end up that way so she keeps walking and she instead of going back for her extra moment in bed she keeps walking that day because something's bothering her she's thinking about how she met her husband there it was a beautiful day in this fish down the water deep blue and restless with whitecaps the breeze moving just enough to make everything seem alive even the fur on my spends on like this the sparrows enjoy the cool grass on their feet gray pelicans cult air into their salty beaks we sauntered on the war for a few hours our voices laughing at each other but the small pay waves beneath us we never let up for a second we ate fresh shrimp with horseradish and little cups and considered every woody that had made the truth to our dwarf each stood proud the beauty of the waxed wood and the effort it had taken to preserve the vehicle in mint condition startled me with a range of human energy while some people were splitting atoms from tangling DNA others were shining their woodies both important but what was I doing yet that counted so she keeps walking and then still after I'd walked a few more hours that day it dawned on me that in many ways I was happier than I ever had been really or maybe as happy as I'd always been deep down I saw the water twinkling in the Sun glinting in the birds resting on sandbars and blue eyes I was enjoying myself so much it was almost shocking I had passed all the beach houses long ago and was well along a stretch I'd never set foot on before it was flat and empty for miles dad with only a few gulls dipping here and there to keep me company the waves were knee-high asked the widest part of the bay thinking about as much sound as a bowl of soup there was a breeze smelling of salt and sea we like a child's breath the summer afternoon at the bus stop that morning will instead I won't abbas zoo arranged alphabetically especially a lot of animals that start with you what starts with you Walker ease ungulate stuff like that if you wanted to be reincarnated with green bones you know what you'd have to be know what a xenopus need I said you know what's a nanny Leonie said what there's only one thing that's in an alien he said it's how many life things on earth it was time to turn around and go home if our tribe had been driven off the earth if well and I were the only ones left then we'd eventually have to learn the customs of those around us of course we were cooperative reasonable types but would there be any reason to rush


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