Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

What Legacy Will You Leave Behind? (11/15/04)



Featured writer: Gregory Gerard



Contributors this month:
Betty Winslow
D.Jayhne Wilson Edwards,
Gregory Gerard
Kate Douglas
Marlene Cullen
Susan Bono


What legacy will you leave behind?

by Gregory Gerard

On the days when my checkbook balances and I make all the lights on the drive to work, I am convinced my writing legacy will be a bestseller—my words having graced schoolrooms, hotel gift shops and suburban nightstands.

On the days when I succumb to the latest virus and have used my laundry quarters to buy a pint of chicken soup, my writing legacy dwindles to a depressing stack of rejection notices and morose scribblings in a daily journal.

Most days, my writing legacy wraps about me in a cocoon of clarity, as I envision friends standing in clumps at my memorial, eating finger quiches and lemon bars, discussing the quirky things I once wrote.

Gregory Gerard keeps trying to make all the lights in Rochester, New York, and is available at ggerard@rochester.rr.com

Betty Winslow



The obvious part of my legacy as a writer is on paper and in electronic bytes: poems, book reviews, restaurant reviews, magazine articles, stories, essays, books, and other bits of writing.

Not so obvious, but far more important, will be my intangible legacy: lives changed, hearts comforted, wounds healed, spirits lifted, souls saved.

I believe that the important part of what a writer leaves behind is not her words, but the results those words have had and will have on the lives of her readers. Therefore, my prayer has always been that my words will bring my readers closer to the Creator who made them (and who gave me the ability to write in the first place).

Father God, may my writing do more than entertain and educate—may it make a lasting difference in both earth and eternity, through Your grace.

Betty Winslow, in Bowling Green, Ohio, writing to make a difference.

D.Jayhne Wilson Edwards,



MY LEGACY, These Granddaughters:

LUV poetry drips from her lips—
That's Alice Vo.
The painter with an enchanted brush—
That's Margaux Lee.
Excitement flows from her pen—
That's Meta Shawn.

All of them,
their blood infused with
a tincture of D.J.

D.Jayhne Wilson Edwards, of Santa Rosa, California, who was born Dorothy Jane in Illinois, became D.J. at age 13, and then metamorphosed, in California many years later, into D.Jayhne.

What legacy will you leave behind?

  by Gregory Gerard

On the days when my checkbook balances and I make all the lights on the drive to work, I am convinced my writing legacy will be a bestseller—my words having graced schoolrooms, hotel gift shops and suburban nightstands.

On the days when I succumb to the latest virus and have used my laundry quarters to buy a pint of chicken soup, my writing legacy dwindles to a depressing stack of rejection notices and morose scribblings in a daily journal.

Most days, my writing legacy wraps about me in a cocoon of clarity, as I envision friends standing in clumps at my memorial, eating finger quiches and lemon bars, discussing the quirky things I once wrote.

Gregory Gerard keeps trying to make all the lights in Rochester, New York, and is available at ggerard@rochester.rr.com

Kate Douglas



I'm not certain I want my heirs reading my books, those sexy, paranormal stories with shapeshifters and sensual aliens dressed in the skins of lions and gods and creatures of the unknown. Sometimes when I'm sitting at my computer working on the next book in one of my s/f or paranormal series, I wonder what my readers would think, were they to discover the person creating these erotic stories is really a fifty-four year old gramma wearing jammie bottoms and a faded tank top?

I love my work. My children know what I write but, as far as I know, haven't read my stories. If they have, they've remained blissfully silent on the content. My son-in-law tried to read one and said he couldn't get through it. He didn't want to know that his mother-in-law knew what I wrote of! For a country so obsessed with sex, we are a nation of prudes. Fan mail from my European readers is so open and fresh, while the notes I receive from my American fans is couched in euphemisms and sideways comments, something I find absolutely fascinating as our marketing studies show American's Bible belt to be our strongest customer base.

I hope I leave a legacy of entertaining stories, of characters not of this world who still manage to touch the heart, inspire the soul and remain alive to my readers. For the reader with a wide-open imagination, my stories should entertain and, for some readers, titillate. I love what I do and I hope that shows through in my words. If the only legacy I leave is joy in the fantasy, I will be forever grateful.

Kate Douglas: www.katedouglas.com/eroticromance

Marlene Cullen



nspired by a poem from Barbara. Thank you, Barbara.

My daughter, home from college, at the baggage carousel, focused and intent, a halo of dark curls surround olive eyes. How did you get past me, waiting at the bottom of the escalator?

Eyes lock, huge grins, a long hug, a comforting fit.

She surveys her room and glances at the latest change. She searches for her younger brother.

"My baby," she claims.

"Our pet," I assert.

Days twirl past filled with visiting family, long walks, and deep talks.

Three steps forward, two back.

My daughter, my legacy.

Marlene Cullen writes about her favorite daughter from Petaluma, CA

Susan Bono



I guess I already have a small legacy that could speak for me—twenty issues of Tiny Lights. To date, I've brought nearly one hundred writers to print, collected scads of uplifting light-related quotes and commissioned some truly lovely illustrations. There's the Tiny Lights website, constantly in need of updating, and selections from "Searchlights & Signal Flares" on the radio. I have friends who inspire me and students who blow my mind at every class meeting. I have a family. Every now and then I consider the fruits of my labors and am pleased.

And yet, when I look into the future, sometimes only as far as next month, I wonder just what, if anything, I will accumulate in the second half of my life. Right now, I feel as if I am standing at an unmarked crossroads on a moonless night. Which way will I go and what will my travels bring me? How much time do I really have? I hope the next few decades will allow me to enjoy my family and friends, to teach, write and publish my own work, maybe even produce twenty more issues of Tiny Lights. But the only legacy I can be sure of are the words I write today added to whatever might be said tomorrow.

Susan Bono is adding to her legacy in Petaluma, CA.

Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

Christine Falcone, David Samuel Johnson, Betty Rodgers

Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer whose work appears in newspapers, anthologies and the Internet. She has published Tiny Lights, a journal of personal essay, since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. From 2000—2005 she helped coordinate the Writer's Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her short essays and columns have appeared in various anthologies, magazines, newspapers and on the radio. Her most recent credits include Passager Magazine, Red Hills Review, the St. Petersburg Times, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and KRCB radio's Word by Word.

Christine Falcone has been writing most of her life. Her work has appeared in print and online, and it has aired on public television and public radio. One of her writing goals for 2008 is to find an agent for her recently completed first novel, "This Is What I Know," which was named as a finalist in the William Faulkner Wisdom Creative Writing Competition out of New Orleans. She is currently in a new writing space, painted purple for inspiration, busily at work on another novel -- this one having to do with the nature of violence.

David Samuel Johnson was reared on a mountain in Arkansas. He lived the bohemian lifestyle in the Ozarks as a hillbilly vagabond, traversing the mountainside shirtless and most of the time shoeless, exploring the sensuality of the aromatic, organic-rich soil of the forest floor or the harsh poetry of greenbriers twined around a devil’s-walking-stick. As a kid he wanted to be a writer and own a snake farm when he grew up. His Mama knew she couldn't dissuade him from either goal. When he brought a poisonous copperhead snake home in his pocket, she bought him a book about snakes so he’d know which ones he could bring home and which ones to leave behind. When he wrote his first poem to a girl in kindergarten, she showed him how to use a dictionary so he could spell the word "beautiful." David's goal of a snake farm and the love of his mountain have manifested into a PhD in ecology. David’s dream of writing has evolved from his first poem in kindergarten to essays in newspapers to interview articles in magazines and columns in this journal. He is living a beautiful dream, some of which you can glimpse below.

David the Writer

David the Scientist

Betty Rodgers and her husband, Ken, live and watch birds in Boise, Idaho. A transplant among transplants, she has chosen to learn the local landscape through the lens of her Pentax K10D. Her writing career began at an early age when she wrote plays and coerced her boy cousins to perform them. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with journalism, writing for the Sacramento Bee, the Cloudcroft Mountain Monthly, the Sebastopol Times and News, and the Boise Weekly. Born in Steinbeck Country, she has also lived in Maine and New Mexico. Betty publishes a bi-monthly online newsletter for Idaho writers, a labor of love inspired by Terry Ehret. In 2006, she published A Mano, a book of poetry by the late Vince Pedroia.

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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