Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As the River Rages

By Nicole Seitz

If this reads a little like a family letter home during the holidays, bear with me. I'm from the South where family is king. By way of introduction, I’m Nicole Seitz, a novelist based in Charleston, South Carolina. I grew up on a little island called Hilton Head, I paint my book covers and love art just about as much as writing itself. I love ethnic foods, animals, God, my husband and children, and sleeping in on Sundays…not necessarily in that order.

I had one of those “full-circle” moments recently. Three years ago, three authors did a talk at the Charleston County Public Library on “Spirituality in Writing”—Beth Webb Hart, Denise Hildreth and me. My mother came to the event as well as some friends from my writers group. At that time I talked about my debut book, The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Beth Webb read from her second novel, Adelaide Piper, and Denise from her third, The Will of Wisteria.

Denise, me and Beth Webb three years ago.
As I sat there last Saturday in the same room at the library, with the same three authors on the same "Spituality in Writing" panel, I looked out in the audience and saw my mother. Thank goodness she could still be there for me. I also saw empty chairs where my writing friends used to be. Three of them have passed away in as many years. I took stock at that moment, thinking about the journey we three authors have been on since the last time we came together, and my, how that river runs. So much has changed.

For one, my hair is a gazillion inches longer than last time AND I’ve discovered this amazing straightening device that actually works in Southern humid weather, the Chi. Denise’s hair was a bit longer too, while Beth Webb still had her short, cute do. As for grays, we each might have a few more, but thanks to the modern miracle of hair color, none of you will ever know.

This year, talking to guests and signing books.
 Last time we three converged, Beth Webb had just had a little boy. That baby is now up and running around. Back then she was teaching at a local school, now she’s focused on writing and raising family and whatever else strikes her fancy. We’ve flip-flopped. I’m now the one teaching at a local school, still taking care of family, writing, and occasionally doing something that strikes my fancy. But the biggest change might be on Denise’s end. She’s now married to a hunky guy with five, count them, FIVE new children to love. Call her Denise Hildreth JONES now. I call her blessed. And courageous. Or tired. One.

Three years ago, we were all writing for the same publisher, Thomas Nelson. Beth Webb and I are still writing for them, but Denise has a new novel out from Tyndale, Hurricanes in Paradise, and a non-fiction book in the works. Beth Webb has had a book hit bestseller status since then, The Wedding Machine, and her new book just launched, Love, Charleston. In the past three years, I’ve had three new novels release, Trouble the Water, A Hundred Years of Happiness, and Saving Cicadas. On Saturday, I could only hint at my Jan/Feb release, The Inheritance of Beauty, about which I’m truly excited.

Last time we were together, SC Poet Laureate and our lovely publicist, Marjory Wentworth, moderated our panel. This time, the talented and jovial Sean Scapellato (though with a lot less hair) did the honors. It was nice having some testosterone on stage for a change!

So much has evolved in our lives in the last three years--our friendship, for one. We’re in this thing together, sharing this journey together. I know I’m speaking for Beth Webb and Denise now, but I think they would agree with me. No matter which book comes out or what has happened in our lives, we still write from a worldview of hope in any circumstance. We still write our hearts out on our pages. We still write true-to-life Southern characters with real world situations that make you laugh and cry and everything in between. And we still thank God for each and every word we are blessed to put out on paper.

Sometimes full circle moments help us to take stock of our journeys and to see what amazing constants there are in our lives, even as the river rages. Faith is one of them. Family and friendships as well. Thankfully, writing is the other thing we can count on to be there for us--a shoulder to lean on and a legacy after there are no more words.

Nicole Seitz is the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass, Trouble the Water, A Hundred Years of Happiness and Saving Cicadas. Her fifth novel, The Inheritance of Beauty will release in February 2011. She teaches art at a local school, paints the covers of her novels, and loves on her family every second she's not writing that next book. Visit her at http://www.nicoleseitz.com/ where you can also purchase her artwork and notecards.


senormedia said...

Are you certain that those pictures aren't reversed? I know that sign isn't on the auditorium door any more.

Nicole Seitz said...

Positive. See the hair? Mine was short three years ago. Now, it's long. Last Saturday I wore that blue shirt. :) You have a great eye for detail, though. You should be a writer!

Peggy Webb said...

What exquisite covers! I enjoyed reading about your friendship with fellow authors. I have formed some of my closet bonds with other writers I've met during a 25-year career.

karen said...

Nicole I really enjoyed last Saturday. All three of you ladies were very inspiring.

Ad Hudler said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Nicole is one of the finest all-around people I've ever met. Every time I talk with her I leave the conversation feeling peaceful and hopeful. Ditto with her books.
-- hope this doesn't come off stalker-y and weird.

Nicole Seitz said...

Peaceful and hopeful, Ad? I love that! Couldn't be a better compliment. And don't worry. Anyone who knows you KNOWS you're not at all stalker-y and wierd...although from your wild book signing stories, some of your readers might fit that bill ;)

Susan Cushman said...

Okay, so you can tell I'm also a Southern gal because my first response to your post is "you found a gadget that keeps your hair straight in this humidity?" I've definitely gotta look into the Chi! And I can't believe how long your hair has gotten just since I met you in January. I'm trying to grow mine out for my daughter's wedding next May. Are you using some sort of fertilizer?

Oh, and of course I love your writing and always look forward to your posts here!

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