Write Your Heart
by Ann Hite

I began to write fiction as a child. I forced my brother to listen to long drawn out stories on the back stoop of my grandmother's house where we lived. The hot, humid Georgia afternoons-the air stuck to us in the form of sweat-forced even the youngest of children to remain as still as possible. In those hours, I spun an imagination so rich it remained with me into adulthood.

I was thirty-one when I decided to write for a living. (Please don't laugh.) Home computers were a second mortgage a house; so I purchased a word processor, placed my grandmother's old desk in front of the window overlooking the countryside, and sat down to write. I wrote three short stories in a row and fired them all off to The New Yorker.

The results are not hard to guess. I then decided what I needed was my English degree. (I had to make money. Money justified the time I spent writing.) My first advanced fiction class-you know I thought I was advanced-required three short stories turned in by the end of the semester. I turned all three of my masterpieces in the second class. I drove home with my thoughts in the clouds. The professor, a senior editor from a semi-famous local press, would congratulate me on my success as a writer, informing me I could skip the class. (Now, I'm exaggerating, but I was full of myself).

The next class opened with the discussion of my first story. I smiled a knowing smile at the professor. This wonderful, caring woman shot my story to pieces. She finished her assault with a suggestion that I take back the two stories we didn't get to and rework them. As I drove home, I swore I would never go back in that woman's class again. I cried. Then, I berated my writing. As I sat down at my word processor, I promised to show the professor her call was wrong. I rewrote the story begrudgingly with some of her suggestions. I mailed it to her with no intentions of attending another class.

The following week I drove to the college. I couldn't stand the suspense. My professor handed out copies of my story to the class. She smiled at me. Sometime during the two hours she compared a paragraph of the story to Fitzgerald's style. Good gosh my head grew again. I continued to write.

One year later, I divorced from my husband of eighteen years. I continued school half heartily, but stopped writing. I had to make a real living. On a night three years later, while my children visited their father, I began a story. The story grew to three stories with the same characters, and I realized I was writing a novel. I wrote for fun as if my spirit depended on it, and it did. I didn't care about money. I wrote because I was a writer. I was that little girl so long agospinning her tales on Granny's stoop. I remarried, had another child, and finished the first draft. I would not allow my mind to think about publishing. I toasted myself with a diet coke and began the second draft. Last year I joined a very successful online writer's group and finished the last draft of my novel, entitled Sleeping Above Chaos. In September, my mother died. I locked myself away and wrote eight short stories in two weeks.  I wrote my heart.

I'm glad to say this morning the last story of these original eight was accepted for publication. My novel is under review by several agents. I have become successful after years of work. I don't write for money. I write because it is in my soul. I am a writer.

My short story, Gabriel's Horn, appeared in the January issue of The Dead Mule, a small southern literary magazine in business since 1995; Appaloosa Wind appeared on December 24, 2003 as the featured story in The Fiction Warehouse, a small literary magazine out of California; Shelter Belt appeared in the March/April issue of Skyline Magazine, an up and coming literary magazine; Perfect Christmas appeared in the December 20, 2003 issue of Saucyvox, a small Canadian literary magazine. Borrowed Time appeared in the April issue of Poor MoJo Almanac, a small literary magazine out of California. Mister Snake Gets Religion will appear in the Summer issue of Cold Glass. A Taut Rope appeared in the May issue of Long Short Story. I studied creative writing under Jane Hill, author and former Senior Editor of Longstreet Press and Atlanta author, Emily Ellison. My writing has appeared in case history form with BP Oil, where I am a technical writer.

Visit: The Painted Door, Gabriel's Horn,  Appaloosa Wind, Borrowed Time,  A Woman Of Consequence, The Taut Rope.

a Women Writer's' Showcase