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Susan Dixon

I have taught writing in classrooms for decades, mentored beginning writers, and supported stalled writers in finishing their project. I write both non-fiction and fiction and participate in three writing groups. I am always on the lookout for new writers who just need to know they have a story and that their story is worth telling.

Equinox and Eclipse

I am already dreading the eclipse. I am awed by it, of course. Awed that it will roll across the United States, arriving in the Finger Lakes in the mid-afternoon and then continuing on its path into Canada. Where I live we will have 99% totality. I want 100% and I only have to drive up the lake to get it. I will make the drive. I want the dread.

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An Ending That Isn’t an Ending

“You will hurt,” the review promised. “Vietnam hurt us.”

The reviewer was not the first to understand the heart of Seeking Quan Am, but they were perhaps the first to put it in such simple terms.

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Imbolc, Groundhog Day, Presentation, Candlemas …

… Lunar New Year, Tet, days getting longer, people complaining about winter …

“It’s Imbolc,” I say, brightly. “The first day of spring. In the Celtic calendar.”

I don’t typically get a cheerful response. February 1st, at this latitude, is not what we typically associate with spring, which is supposed to be pastel flowers and buds and sunshine. We know that from the calendars and gift cards and images of the four seasons. Where I live it is gray and frozen. There are more birds but the sounds are still lonely—the occasional chickadee or a distant crow. And yet …

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Winter At-Home Writers Retreats
Whether it’s a work-in-progress, or big plans, or an idea in the back of your head, winter, after the holidays, is a wonderful time to write.

Getting out of town in winter weather is always a risk, though.

Turn your own home into a retreat space, set your own goal, ask for as much accountability (or freedom) as you want, meet other writers virtually (I know we are all sick of Zoom, but it does have its uses), and celebrate your achievement.

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January Writing

Two years ago I decided to do a self-guided writing retreat in the off-season at an artist residency center. My own space, my own time, alone, just me and my writing. I didn’t even want to negotiate the shared kitchen so I spent an enormous amount of prep time acquiring a small electric kettle, camp plates and cups, crackers, cheese, dehydrated soups, and some lovely patés.

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Winter Solstice

Dorie Greenspan has a classic recipe for the perfect cookie that she got from Pierre Hermé. It’s basically a French sablé but like an American chocolate chip cookie, it is made with both white and brown sugar. It’s got cocoa and chocolate and butter and salt and that wonderful sandy sablé texture. It’s so perfect it got nicknamed the World Peace Cookie because clearly if everyone ate it, they would be too content to argue.

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Advent 2023

As soon as we arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the early 60s, my parents went “church shopping,” visiting Methodist churches one after another. Things went awry every time. One church didn’t have a Sunday School. The minister at another told newcomers to stand up and he commented on one woman’s ‘lovely hat.’ The final straw was the church that gave out Green Stamps to those attending. (Who remembers Green Stamps?) My parents, though both had deep ties to the Methodist Church, became Episcopalian.

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Still, the journey

The last three times I have traveled it was to Vietnam. I prepared in all the usual ways—passport, suitcase organization, contingency plans—and I used Rosetta Stone and/or Duolingo to study the language. I had no illusions that I would be able to speak Vietnamese, I just wanted to have a clue, a bit of something to hold onto.

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The POW-MIA Metaphor

My writing group, The Pen and the Sword, considers topics related to any war, but the Vietnam War in particular. Our theme at the moment is After War—the ways in which cultures, communities, individuals leave war behind and transition to peace time. We are discovering, of course, the numerous ways in which war is not left behind, but continues to play a shadow role in decision-making, motivations, and anxieties. With this in mind, then, we wrote about what we remembered (Googling not allowed) about the POW-MIA phenomenon. The following was my response.

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