Maybe it was the way that Cathy gave out chocolate hugs and kisses while we were doing the first round table of the year at the last chapter meeting, or listening to her give a talk on journal writing, but there is an amazing warmth about her. It maybe because she is a school teacher or a hopeless romantic after my own heart, she has a lot of heart.
We were on our way to Starbuck's to talk and not even out of the building when she tells me about her favorite American Indian artist RC Gorman, trips to museums, and wanting to see the Jane Austen exhibition noting that she wants to maybe make a group field trip after the next meeting (I think we should as well even though I have never read Jane Austen before). I trust Cathy; she is full of ideas and passions, showing me things I never saw before as much meetings as I have been to for RWA_NYC. There is an amazing store on the corner a few blocks away with astounding stones, rose quartzes which I never noticed until she showed me. Enlightened by talking about her travels, romance and angels, her own novel called ANGELS AMONG US is a must find and must read for me. Throughout our cozy conversation I am looking at her jewelry, feeling her warmth and thinking she is definitely right about angels on earth--because she is one...
“Morning pages (after Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY) were one of my New Year resolutions. I am the first one up in the house and my routine generally is to get myself up, let the dog (my black Labrador mix) out, and write those pages while having breakfast. I used to set my timer on ten minutes and I would write whatever. I would not want to stop writing.”
It is nice to see all of the billboards for romantic comedies (that we see walking to Starbuck's). “I like old horror stories like Hitchcock,” Cathy said. “One of my students told me about a slasher film, and I said I really don’t want to hear about it. I wondered why such a nice boy is seeing that.
"I’ve always been a bit romantic. During college, I would write love letters to my husband (my boyfriend at the time). I think that was the beginning of my writing love letters. He would write me two pages and I would write back four pages. I wrote them on scented stationery.
"I have lots of angels in my home; I think that angels have saved me. They saved my son when he was a toddler from almost getting hit by a car, and I did not realize there was a car that was coming the opposite way that would have hit me as I went to save him. I really think there are angels among us. In a parochial school play I actually played an angel with a little pink outfit and silver wings.
(On my commenting about her nice handwriting and the shared Catholic school experience) “I think my handwriting is neater than the penmanship I see now. Once I was sent to Mother Superior for underlining words in a dictionary. We were not supposed to write in books. I was afraid of the lay teacher (non nun) more than the nuns. The school I went to was in Greenwich Village, and it was the school my mother and cousins went to. I did not like wearing a uniform, but It helped with the work ethic. Kids now think if they write their name on a piece of paper they should have A’s.
“I have had students come back and visit. When I teach, I try to be myself; I tell students what I do and how I identify with their frustrations when I make them write. I also share my accomplishments about publishing with them, and they are very happy for me. I show them that writing is not just something out there; it is something people can do. I asked my students to write a 500 to 1,500 word short story. I told them I have written hundreds of thousands of words. Then they ask if 1600 would be okay? How about 1700? One girl wrote twelve pages, and when I drew lines through her work to help her edit, she professed a love of the process and told me she wanted to be a novelist one day.
“Poetry from young teenagers is pretty uninhibited in terms of their expression, and it really comes from the heart. They are more willing to violate the rules. My novels include a little bit of poetry and my heroine in Wildflowers talks about poetry and love letters from a man that she loved. I still write poetry and have had some poems published.
“I’ve traveled a lot and learned from it. In Greece there were a lot of superstitions. We had a guide for our tour tell us that cab drivers and people wear an amulet that looks like a blue eye to ward off evil.
“I love Ireland because of the people and I love Spain because it is beautiful. Greece has beauty and culture and an interesting history. For just relaxing at the beach, nothing beats Bermuda. I like the tea in Morocco. Back in the early eighties, I thought I was going to get arrested before I left the airport in Morocco. I told the guard there that I was a writer. As he clutched his gun, he asked what do I write, and I said advertising. He merely nodded and waved me onto the plane.