By Randell Jones
Bearing up. Itâ€™s not always easy to do…or write about.
But that writing challenge was taken on this winter by over twenty-five North Carolina writers who joined authors from Kentucky to share personal essays on making do and overcoming adversity when faced with daunting and peculiar life challenges.
Bearing Up is the collective result of forty writers responding to the Call for Essays issued last fall for the â€œPersonal Essay Publishing Projectâ€”Winter 2018.â€ The book was released in April by Daniel Boone Footsteps Publishing to commemorate the 250th anniversary of events in the life of Americaâ€™s pioneer hero Daniel Boone.
A new Call for Essays of â€œPEPP-spring 2019â€ is now open. Visit www.DanielBooneFootsteps.com to learn more.
North Carolina writers from across the state submitted their personal essays for consideration. The writers included fresh, new voices looking to be published for the first time as well as seasoned storytellers, including two poet laureates.
The stories they shared are moving and current.
â€œSome of the writers recounted the experiences of a relative or ancestor whose story they knew as family lore or from personal knowledge,â€ said Randell Jones, editor and publisher. â€œOthers shared their own experiences, some facing sexual harassment, violence, and rape. The topics covered a wide range, but they all dealt with people facing real challenges head onâ€and not always successfully. Some of the stories would bring you to tears,â€ Randell added, â€œbut some were laugh-out-loud funny. All were well told.â€
Each story leaves the reader pondering a lesson or a message gleaned from the experiences of others.
Lisa Miracle Ballard of Huntersville wrote in â€œThe Giftâ€ about how hearing the story of a Kentucky grandmother she had never met restored Lisaâ€™s will to recover from a near-deadly collision: â€œFolks paid her with a chicken or a bag of meal; Granny was a healer.â€
Bruce Spang of Candler wrote in â€œNo Forwarding Addressâ€ about his brotherâ€™s last days in failing health: â€œMy brother sat in a chair in the corner of the living room, a walker stationed by him. He smiled weakly at me. His legs, thick and covered with bandages, were exposed. I thought, as I took him in, ‘Heâ€™s dying.’ I kissed him on the forehead.â€
Diane Pascoe of the Wilmington area shared with humor some childhood memories in â€œShow-and-Tell Goddessâ€: â€œWhen I found the deerâ€™s leg in the toy box, I knew I had my ticket to fame.â€
Valerie Paterson of Greensboro shared a horrifying tale in â€œMe Aloneâ€ of being attacked several times by different men and her resolve to help protect other women from her experience: â€œThis was rape in the middle of nowhereâ€a country road in the middle of French farmland, in the dark, in the middle of the night with no one around.â€
Howard Pearre of Winston-Salem wrote in â€œOmahaâ€ of his fatherâ€™s sense of duty preparing to lead men onto the beaches, D-Day 1944: â€œIf they made it onto shore, they knew barbed wire and mines awaited them.â€
Cherie Cox of Charlotte wrote about her feisty, 107-year-old, poet and teacher cousin in â€œYou Can Do Thisâ€: â€œWhen asked her age on job applications, she simply wrote â€˜atomic.â€™â€
Margarette Dunn of Fayetteville wrote about her younger brother, stricken with polio at age five, in â€œBracing for Lifeâ€: â€œThough this independent streak and his mischievousness got him into trouble this time, his innovative thinking helped him to help himself for the rest of his life.â€
Copies of Bearing Up are available online at www.DanielBooneFootsteps.com or from some of the writers. Find information there also about the Personal Essay Publishing Projectâ€”Spring 2019.