writing samples by...

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.

Rare Encounter

It is March 1969 in a place west of Saigon that the men called the Tobacco Field. They also called it Ambush Valley. Civilians were rare here, so when this group of farmers walked nearby, Captain Meager (hands on hips in middle photo) went to talk to them. Mark (who took the picture) said Capt. Meager asked them if there were Viet Cong nearby and they said, no, they didn’t know about any Viet Cong.

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The Panera Stranger

This was an introduction to Seeking Quan Am that I kept for a long time before going in a different direction.

Mark Smith and I were sitting with a friend in a coffee shop in Ithaca, N.Y. waiting for a mechanic to repair my car. The three of us had been to Vietnam together and we were enjoying a reunion visit. Mark wore a cap with “Vietnam Veteran” embroidered above the bill. We sipped our coffee and nibbled pastry, talking. Suddenly, a stranger appeared at our table, thrust his hand at Mark, and boomed, “Thank you for your service!” Mark, who was holding his coffee cup in his right hand, used his left to simultaneously take the man’s hand and wave him away. The man said something else in a hearty voice and left.

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War Story, With Stereotypes

Women are not less fierce than men, less dedicated to ideals, less passionate about beliefs. But women, at least when they are not trying to succeed in a man’s world, write differently than men. They use language differently. Their angle, the focus of their lens, is different. Not better, or not necessarily so, just different.

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Story-listening

This is another story about Coyote, who is entirely a literary device, albeit one with a personality.

“Tell me a story,” I demanded.

‘Demanded’ might be too strong a word because I meant it as a compliment. Coyote tells such good stories and I love losing myself in them. Like the year at Christmas when I heard The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time and I listened while I was looking deep within the tree and I thought I had actually got into Narnia somehow.

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The (Possible) Return of Coyote

There is something very satisfying about writing on a typewriter—rolling the paper in, the active little clicks, ripping the paper out if what you wrote

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Writing War

A year ago I sat on a folding chair in an ordinary meeting room listening to poetry. The room had a table with the usual

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Truth and Lies

PROMPT: “How is truth manipulated to serve the ends of war-making? Why would lies be thought to be necessary? Are lies ever justified? What is

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The War Against the Land

Many of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam saw it: the extraordinary beauty of the land they had come to destroy. They took note of

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Tribal Memory

A friend is writing about stories in her family that turn out, upon investigation, not to be true. That made me wonder if the stories

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The Hard-Core Hat

The men sit, brooding, waiting, exhausted. If they are told to do something, they are ready to do it, their equipment close by. Their weapons

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