The Reluctant Writer

It all seemed so simple when I first retired. At last! I had time to write! Oh what plans I had—

Short story about Dixie Carter’s wedding in McLemoresville, TN. Wasn’t sure what else I might construct a story around, but I started on that one.

A local writer’s group sponsored The Valley Voices writing contest, and I was determined to submit to that group’s competition. Now what could I write that would impress the judges?

And yes, I must start journaling—writing down stories about my experiences as the Public Information Director for a North Carolina Sheriff’s Office. There was this time when a citizen 

Working with Jim Sughrue, Raleigh Police, & Amanda Lamb, WRAL
as Wake County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Director

insisted on telling me about how ticks had infested her yard, her house, her body. And just what did that have to do with crime in our county? I couldn’t wait to tell that story. 

And then there was the time that a grieving mother picketed outside my office window. A sad tale filled with murder, twins being born with the veil, fake detectives, and mug shots drawn in pencil on paper plates. That story needed to be told to emphasize the need for mental health assistance. That mother’s experience lives on in my heart—her story and its effect on me would make for good reading.

But I was new to Blacksburg. My husband had lived here since 1996, but my residency didn’t begin until 2013. So it was off to the Blacksburg Newcomers Club (BBNC) that welcomed me warmly. Oh what Interest Groups they had for me to explore—Wine Group, Book Club (not 1 but 2), Lunch Bunch, eventually Crochet, Walking, and of course, a Writers’ Group, and our Circle Supper where the dearest and truest friends lay in wait for me.

My Circle Supper Co-horts–Me, Bonnie Bunger, Cheryl Green, & Linda Moll

Naturally, I went head first into all the activities, serving on the Board as its Corresponding/Recording Secretary.  Even though the Dixie Carter story sat unfinished on my lap top and the Grieving Mother story rattled around in my brain but not on paper or disc, I told myself that I was writing—writing letters and notes and minutes for BBNC. 

Then my parents fell ill. Literally, my father fell and broke his hip which meant no one to care for our mother plagued with Alzheimer’s.

Ten hour trips to Tennessee with my sister and sometimes alone to care for them, to helplessly witness their decline, their death, occupied my time although journalling about this experience helped. Ok, I was writing. I ended up with some very cathartic memoirs about this time in my life, but who would want to read them?

Here lately, I notice that any time I sit down to write, I find an excuse to do something else. Some days my house is spotless as I clean out pantries, clean bathrooms, read that book for our next book club meeting, clean my jewelry, empty the dishwasher, read FlipBoard—do anything but write. I spend my time chasing butterflies but not writing.

And if I have written the rare story or essay, I am afraid to let it go. It must be perfect! I will delete a the and add a this; insert a comma or rarely delete one (I love the Oxford comma). I move paragraphs, change character names, switch between passive voice (usually a no-no) and active voice (a yes-yes). l am afraid to have anyone read it until I think it is perfect.

But why would anyone want to read what I have written? 

Since I wrote that last sentence, I have continued to procrastinate about writing. Why not take a ride to Paint Bank, VA to see the buffalo at Hollow Hill Farms? Why not make a Texas Trash Pie for my neighbor’s father? Why not organize my greeting cards or prune my daffodils?

But look—words not on paper but on a screen, on a disc! Thanks to my writing friend and blog mentor who encouraged me to examine the reasons for my procrastination, I wrote. You see the results in the text above. Basically, I think, I am afraid, worried I have nothing to say that is meaningful, and no routine. Maybe I need a supervisor, someone with assignments for me. I don’t have writer’s block—I have lots of ideas but no reason to follow through with them.

What motivates you to write, paint, crochet, knit, do anything creative? Am I the only one with these issues? Maybe I’m just lazy.

Circle Suppers

New River Valley, Virginia

L-R—(empty chair for photog, Grace Youhas); Jake & Linda Moll; Aubrey & Bonnie Bunger (hosts for March Circle Supper); Owen & Cheryl Green; John Youhas 

March Menu: Tossed Salad, Savory Cornbread, Chicken Pot Pie Casserole, Roasted Asparagus, Black Forest Cheesecake and WINE!

Once a month we happy eight, we band of brothers and sisters, meet to share food, wine, and laughs galore. One couple hosts which means they search frantically for that one entrée recipe that no one else has tried and Julia Child would envy. 

Linda Moll’s treasure of appetizers for our February supper—bacon bites wrapped around almond stuffed dates; Southern pimento cheese with a variety of crackers; herb dip with cucumbers, peppers, and celery. 

If you’re one of the guests, you choose to bring an appetizer, salad, or dessert. What will it be? A Pinterest recipe? Cook’s Illustrated? Or…a browse through your mother’s food-stained, bedraggled cookbook for her special recipe that always yielded wide smiles and bravos.

Circle Supper members come from disparate backgrounds, nationalities, and professions, but once a month food brings us together and the common ingredient is love—

Love for delicious foods, friendships that cannot be severed, and time together that will never be forgotten.

Cheryl Green with her Mixed Green Salad abundant with blueberries, candied pecans and  tossed with a tangy citrus dressing.(February supper)

Well, some of the conversations might be forgotten—like the one about octopuses (yes that is the correct plural) being aliens who hitched a ride to earth on a meteor. Or the story about how one of our members unknowingly gave her golfing friends indelible pink ink for their “faux” tattoos. Then there was the time the bear attacked the bee hives and then, but no, we can’t share that story! What we can share is our love for food!

Why do we call it Circle Supper? 

Because it circles around to everyone as hosts and encircles us in bonds of fellowship. This circle of friends is unbroken when so much in our world seems to be broken.

We friends have shared the stress of illness, isolation of Covid, deaths of siblings and parents as well as the births of grandchildren, battles won against cancer, stunning art projects, forges hand-built stone by stone, and bee hives flowing with honey. Through it all we have kept our sense of humor and our realization that we have each other. The common ingredient lives strong here in New River Valley, Virginia.

As we fill our plates and relish this time together, we are painfully aware of refugees from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, South America, and Africa—too many to fully comprehend. Even though we know where and when our next meal will be, they do not.

Bonnie’s Chicken Pot Pie Casserole and roasted asparagus. Linda Moll’s tossed salad and savory cornbread. Knotty Vines cabernet sauvignon (Photo by Linda Moll)

And what about the food insecure in our own backyards? At 6:30 on a Saturday night, they are not helping themselves to one of Martha Stewart’s chicken pot pies. According to the New River Valley Thrive Network, 10% of our families and one in five children experience hunger or food hardship. 

We give locally—Interfaith Food Bank, Micah’s Backpack, Beans and Rice— as well as internationally—Red Cross, World Central Kitchen, and the Red Kettle at Christmas—just a few of the many groups our members support.

John stands by with a fire extinguisher just in case Aubrey’s kitchen torch gets over-heated as he caramelizes Bonnie’s scrumptious Creme Brûlée. (February supper)

Yes, we have fun! Yes, we prepare delicious meals! Yes, we care and share! The common ingredient lives strong here in New River Valley, Virginia.

Action Idea:  How about you? I would love to hear about your dinner groups, your menus, your successes, your failures, the organizations you support. Find these recipes at