Several years ago I read a collection of short stories that I loved. And I do mean loved. So much so that I immediately wrote a review of the book and gave it the that it deserved. I believe in supporting other writers and singing their praises, and this book was so terrific that I wanted to offer the author my full support. Well, out of the blue the author of that wonderful book contacted me and we hit it off from the get-go, chattering back and forth like two happy five-year-olds.
That’s how my new friend, Pamela King Cable, came into my life. I still remember checking out her website after I’d read her book, and I still remember looking at her picture. I had no way of knowing that those gorgeous, intuitive eyes and gentle smile belonged to a woman who would one day be my girlfriend. I’m still amazed at how we connected. Life is full of surprises and blessings.
I recently asked Pam if she’d be willing to share a bit about herself here on my blog, and even though she’s busy working on a new novel (which I cannot wait to get my hands on), she graciously accepted my invitation.
I’m tickled to introduce you to my girlfriend who happens to be a wonderfully talented writer (and gifted storyteller), Pamela King Cable. Here is her story …
A Writer Remembers
“Swarms of finches, wrens, and other tiny birds peck and hunt for food at feeders that hang outside my kitchen window. Even when I forget to fill the feeders, the birds arrive each morning, hoping to discover their next meal. These tiny birds never give up. They are constant, vigilant, driven. Despite the odds and possible dangers, the birds return every day.
Writers are like tiny birds. We beat our heads against one roadblock after another, writing against enormous odds, hoping and believing our next book will land in the laps of readers and on bestseller lists across the country. But even after decades into our career, we discover we must sometimes recall what made us write in the first place and the courage it took.
My granddaddy was a coal miner, but my father escaped the mines, went to college and moved his family to Ohio to work for the rubber companies. I spent every weekend as a child, traveling back to the West Virginia Mountains. My memories of my childhood run as deep as the Appalachian creeks and swimming holes I swam in as a child. My career as a writer was born in the dust laden coal towns of the early 60s.
For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar, places of clapboard and revival tents transcending time and space, that characters hang ripe and ready for picking.
From the primitive church services of mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments of robed priests in great cathedrals and monasteries. From hardworking men and women who testify in the run-down churches of coal camps to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals in televised mega-churches of today. Therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.
As a writer, it is my desire to transport a reader’s mind—but my deepest passion is to pierce a reader’s heart. The topic of faith, for me, has a way of doing that like nothing else.
My mother says I cut my teeth on the back of a church pew. I grew up in revival tents, tabernacles, and eventually in grand cathedrals with TV cameras rolling. In the early days, revivals were as exciting as the carnival coming to town and evangelists were royalty. I experienced a world from the sublime to the bizarre. It caused me to weave religion, spirituality, and the mysterious into my stories. Stories that hint to an ancient bridge where the real and the supernatural meet.
Many of my stories are based on truth, shreds of truth, people I’ve known, places I’ve been, and of course history plays a great part in some stories, like Coal Dust On My Feet; a love story set amidst the longest and most violent coal strike in the history of our country. It is truth and fiction.
Mother was a skilled storyteller without knowing it. All I wanted to do when I grew up was duplicate her life. I loved her southern accent and heritage and I felt neither imprisoned nor put off by it. But the most precious gift she gave me was a love for the written world, be it the word of God or of Mother Goose. Mom was my inspiration, and one day I picked up a pencil in the sixth grade and wrote my first story. I haven’t stopped since. The next forty years played into my storytelling, and after surviving life’s heartaches and hardships, it gave me plenty to write about.
A writer’s life is a solitary life. We hope we possess raw talent, unique originality, and gut emotional appeal. We raise the stakes on each and every page and hope, and pray, and believe that some day we’re blessed a bit of luck.
Is it worth the struggle? You bet it is. All you need, is the courage of a tiny bird.
Remember when you tackled that first story, essay, article, poem? That was courage. Courage is not confidence, nor the opposite of meekness. It’s feeling a measure of confidence, and then acting on those feelings. It’s a quality of spirit that enables you to face the moment, whatever comes, and keep going.
Courage allows you to see, hear, smell, and taste things as they really are. Courage makes you face facts, unfiltered by rosy daydreams. Courage frees you to be creative. It pushes you to prepare for the unknown without obsessing over it. To be open to what may come.
A writer can’t be open to new ideas if dazed and confused by fear. Courage enables you to be prepared and wide awake in every situation.
There were times in my youth I didn’t write because I was afraid of failing. I didn’t prepare for success because I was afraid it might happen. I didn’t look, really look, into my past because I was afraid of what I might find. As I grow older, I don’t give myself those options. Not anymore.
Fear is passive-aggressive. It’s the lazy writer’s excuse for not moving forward. It’s a great immobilizer, an avoidance technique. Fear puts the focus on what we might encounter, distracts us from what’s actually there. Courage empowers a writer to pay attention.
In the end, a writer can do without a lot of things. Remembering your journey is not one of them. Courage is the other.”
—Pamela King Cable
Southern Fried Women, Pam’s terrific book of short stories, can be purchased at Indy booksellers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and other fine retailers.
Pam was born a coal miner’s granddaughter, and claims a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers raised her. Her award-winning stories, articles, and essays have appeared in magazines, anthologies, and newspapers in several states. Pam’s passion and inspiration on overcoming life’s insurmountable obstacles is evident when she speaks and within the pages of her collection of short stories, Southern Fried Women, which was a finalist in Fiction and Literature-Short Story, Best Books of 2006 Book Awards, USABookNews.com, and a finalist for ForeWard Magazine’s Book of the Year 2006.
Pam has appeared on TV, radio, and has been a keynote or guest speaker at regional and national writing groups, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Women’s Centers, Junior Leagues, and many churches throughout the South. Also, in 2006 Pam was invited by the First Lady of West Virginia and the First Lady of Mississippi to speak to the people of Charleston and Jackson.
She is currently working on her third book, The Sanctum.