I call my short story writing genre “loose with the truth” because there is always, always, always a kernel of truth in the fiction I flash. Some in my crit group have become confused after they read one of my short stories, certain it was a personal essay despite my disclaimer. Some have begun to weep because of strong emotion evoked by a tale of a physician’s visit. No one believes that a single picture can sprout a short story with powerful dynamic. My muse is strong within me.

Some stories are powered by a rant or a personal pet peeve or an encounter that perplexed me. One of these grew into a book, powered by a need to tell more, to show more, and to create. My opinions have long been sublimated by polite rules of culture, especially when raised in the ‘50s in the Midwest.

Every woman I know can recite—some in the same tone of voice—a phrase from the lips of their mom: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I relaxed into this mantle of story-telling when I head Fanny Flagg mention the same manner of upbringing in the South. She confessed to maintaining a rich inner dialogue, studded with sarcasm and sass-back, through life—and she mined this terrain to produce stories, her vision, her point of view, often hilarious, always cohesive, always smart with insights. Lotsa books. She is my icon for ‘slice of life’ tales.

I’ve exorcized demons, retorted to people who’ve been unkind, changed my point of view with writing as algorithm for life. I’ve gained empathy, deepened my resistance, and resolved problems that will never resolve in real life.

I write to learn what I’m thinking rather than remain locked in my feelings. Sometimes I even write to process feelings. I write to feel less insecure.

I can’t, couldn’t, will not imagine life without the ability to write. I think I’d go crazy… or else suffer emotional death.