Welcome to Longleaf Stories. Some of you know me by my real name, Beth, but the blog is registered to Evangeline Thibodeaux Harper, a name as fictitious as it sounds. This project knits together all the threads from an original blog, Switched at Birth, plus all of the findable iterations that have followed in its circuitous path from September, 2003 to this warm, breathing moment, and even inserts shards of pre-digital age photos and journal word scraps. Until tonight, I didn’t realize this gathering, this repository, was even possible. So I feel a little fluttery, giddy, and happy beyond all reason to witness this homecoming of all my little word clouds and photo puff balls.
My essays have appeared in Meg Sefton’s Florida Flash: A Christmas Anthology (2013); The Boiler: A Journal of New Literature (March 2013), Brevity, Brevity’s Blog, Prick of the Spindle, Girls with Insurance, Dead Mule, Camroc Press Review, Emerald Coast Review and others. I’m still working on a novel. It’s a coming of age story, wrapped in a romance, inside a secret, dipped in danger and deep-fried by a hurricane. Progress is slow. Sometimes it goes in reverse. I started out to write a mind candy book, but somewhere along the way the small literary corner in my head began to turn on the lamp lights and fluff pillows, and now I have this weird braided hybrid of a suspense novel told chronologically and a more literary novel told backward. I’m still not sure if they’re both the same book or two different ones, but they seem to be clinging to one another like a kudzu vine on a junked car by the side of a Georgia clay road.
Buck and I still miss Maggie the chocolate Lab, more than four years now since that sad November day when she died at age thirteen. I imagine her soft ears in my hand while I’m working at my desk, and her snuffly warm breath and dream yips, but as of December 15, 2015, a precious new four-legged friend has joined us: Westmark’s Longleaf Lou, a 17-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever. Dogs will listen to us read our novel drafts when everyone else’s ears have fallen off. They won’t make faces or suggest we kill our darlings. They love us 100% no matter what we do or don’t do. With Lou’s arrival, our home’s spirit has been set right again.
June 30, 2016 update: When Lou first came to us, she was afraid of a lot of things, especially that someone might grab her ears. Notice how tight they are against her head? Check out this photo of Lou now, a few days ago, at age 23 months. The difference is striking. She loves having her ears scratched now.
Dylan Landis, author of “Ordinary People Don’t Live Like This,” says of writing:
To write well, you must be willing to hold your finger in the flame.
So, if you come to these pages and catch a whiff of woods smoke, it’s just me, rubbing sticks together, hoping the pages will catch fire.
Thanks for stopping by,