Being Public

Remedios Varo, La llamada (The Call), 1961

I will never forget the effect on my lonely teenage heart of reading aloud a particularly personal essay to Mr. Markman’s English 1A class in 1972. Seeing the faces of the other students, watching some of them cry, made me a writer. Before that, I didn’t quite believe myself to be a writer, and afterward, I did. That threshold was, and still is, important: going in and out of privacy, into the world of people, away to be by myself. Making public – publishing – is not just for stroking the ego. There is something in me that shies away from it, as being unseemly. But no. It is the other part of the creative process – to share it.

Publishing means to make public. Its roots are in the Latin publicus – of the people. Writers need readers to complete the creative cycle.

I have stories to share, some of them which I have cherished for over fifty years, meaning to “hold dear” and “treat with tenderness.” But they are also stories that are like other people’s stories, and the time has come for them to go into the world. I will be trying the traditional publishing route first, seeking an agent to help me find a publisher and shepherd my work through that world.

I have a deep uneasiness about doing this. So I am steeling myself.

To that end I have refurbished the Library section of my website, which has languished for too long while I frolicked with Art over the way. That has been another excavation, finding old writings, sprucing up some of them with newer photographs, editing as needed.

Publish button in WordPressAnd I am publishing some excerpts from my books, the one I’ve finished and the one in progress. It is quite the metaphor that the Publish button in my WordPress window is paired with the “Move to Trash” command.

I have been publishing my words for years, so really it’s just more of the same. But this time, I am telling some deeply held secrets. Telling my story. And my grandmother’s story too. Coming out of the shadows.

I have uploaded two excerpts from my book, Mother Knot, and one from my work-in-progress, An American Girl in Tehran. It is strange that all three of these particular bits began with drafts I wrote in 1969, in 1974 and in 1976. I think I have been carrying them around long enough, don’t you? And never fear, most of the rest of these books is new material!

One thing about the kind of writing that I am doing is that it does not have the “wow” factor of great visuals. So I have broken with my long-held protocol of using only my own images. The image above is a painting by Remedios Varo, titled La llamada, which translates as The Call, in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a venue of which I am extremely fond.  An image like this can tell many kinds of stories but for me, in this moment, it is a profound evocation of coming out of the shadows, alight with the fire of making, carrying the tools of alchemy. The immobile walls around her are made of silent, gray figures, perhaps the disapprovers, or the dead. I have been with the dead often as I have written my stories, and though I have felt their love and support, they can not speak, nor move any longer. They have whispered their stories to me in the night, in dreams, in dark places, but the speaking, and writing, of these stories, has been mine to do.

I hope you enjoy reading through some of my offerings and if you like them, or if you don’t, please leave a comment here for me.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Roseanne Sabol 03/02/2022, 4:34 am

    I always love seeing your email in my inbox, Cari, and I was happy to see I could read 2 excerpts from your book. I particularly enjoyed “Reaching,” and would look forward to more.
    Thanks for sharing those.

    • Cari Ferraro 03/02/2022, 5:53 pm

      Always good to hear from you, Roseanne. I hope you will be able to read the whole book soon.

  • Bee Smith 03/02/2022, 4:35 am

    Applause for this brave move and the stunning refurb of the website and Library section.

    In the Zoom creative writing workshops I have been running over the winter, there is a thread that keeps coming up about how women need to tell the truth of their lives. First they need to figure out the lies they believed and then fight their way out of the box of lies that constricted them for too long.

    Keep the truth being told. And may we all have the ears to hear.

    • Cari Ferraro 03/02/2022, 5:52 pm

      Bee, thank you for this. It is a fact that many women in our generation have experienced. I am glad to hear that you will be sharing this with your classes also, which you mentioned to me privately.

  • Denise Weller 03/02/2022, 1:36 pm

    Oh Cari, what an absolute treat. How lovely to finally see the cup! I can’t wait until I can hold these books in my hands.


    • Cari Ferraro 03/02/2022, 5:56 pm

      Denise, it meant so much to me to hear that you remembered me reading what I wrote about “the blue cup” in our class so, so many years ago. Some things we just carry around with us for a lifetime. Reconnecting with you through this story on my website has been a precious gift in my life.

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