Writing's what they do best

July 23, 1993|By Tim Warren | Tim Warren,Book Editor

Irwin Shaw once observed that children play football even though they know they could be injured on any play. "Writing is like that," the novelist and short-story writer concluded. "You can get hurt, but you enjoy it."

The four Maryland-based winners of the Artscape '93 Literary Arts Awards whose profiles follow are a good illustration of Shaw's assessment. They write primarily for small publications. They teach writing, or are involved in literary endeavors that are not likely to bring them great fame.

CAROL HOOVER What motivates them? Carol Hoover, winner of the short-story contest, puts it this way: "It's not the money. Writing's the thing I do best. It's what I want to do; it's my life."The first short story that Carol Hoover ever sent out got published -- in Story, the pre-eminent magazine for short-story writers no less. That was in 1961. Thirty-two years later, she's had only two others published, and those were in small, "literary" magazines.

So you don't have to tell Carol Hoover about the vagaries and quirks of the writing life, and you really can't blame her for being excited at winning this year's Artscape Literary Arts Award for Short Story -- the first contest she's won. Ms. Hoover's story line in "Being Towards Death," centers on adult children caring for their dying mother, but Anne Tyler, noted Baltimore author and contest judge, says, "This is not merely a description of an aging parent's decline, but also a study of an entire family's complicated substructure. . . ."

"I was very pleased by her reaction," says Ms. Hoover, 72, of

Rockville. "It means an awful lot to hear what someone of Anne Tyler's stature has to say about your writing."

She began working on the story several years ago, "and I worked on it and revised it since. A lot of feeling went into it. There was much of it that was painful, but when you write something like that, it helps you to deal with whatever personal reactions you might have, such as illnesses and deaths in your own family."

A retired psychiatric social worker, Ms. Hoover is one of four directors of the Ariadne Press, a small literary publisher that will bring out two novels this year. And she still regularly sends her stories -- "I have drawersful of them" -- to literary magazines and enters them in contests. Over the years, she has learned to deal with rejection. Of her returned manuscripts, Ms. Hoover says, "I just sit down and I get a new envelope."


He needed someone to help him with his writing -- "I get writer's block every time I sit down at the typewriter," he says. She wanted a collaborator for a book she was working on about the Eastern Shore. And so one day last fall, William Fetterolf and Jeanne Frank, his writing teacher at Warwick Community College, agreed they would work as a team.

That book ultimately became a one-act play, "Tides of Time," and won them the Artscape Literary Award for One-Act Play. "I had actually written in my journal that I need a writing project to get me going," says Mr. Fetterolf, who grew up in the Forest Park section of Baltimore but has lived in the Ocean City area for the past two decades. "That night, Jeanne asked me to help her with something she was working on. It was serendipity."

"Tides of Time" grew out of 10 years of oral-history research Ms. Frank had done in Somerset County. Mr. Fetterolf, who had worked extensively as a free-lance photographer, provided stark black-and-white photos that are projected on the stage -- "abandoned boats, burned-out mills, old churches and old farm sites," he says. "The play more or less deals with changes in the life of the people involved with these different settings, and that things change whether you like it or not. That's particularly true with the watermen, where the bay is dying all around them."

Ms. Frank, of Princess Anne, says, "I had written plays before, but they had not worked. Now I see they were my guinea pigs -- the work that I did on the way to learning what I was doing." A former dancer on Broadway, she had taught creative writing at the Eastern Shore branch of the University of Virginia in the late 1960s before taking off 21 years to raise three children.

"What happened is that I read a newspaper story about one of my former students that mentioned he had written eight books," says Ms. Frank, who, like Mr. Fetterolf, is 53. "So I went back to teaching and started writing again. I am now making up for the previous 21 years."

ROSE SOLARI Rose Solari got an early and unusually thorough introduction to poetry. "My father loved poetry, especially Keats and Shelley, and used to read it to me when I was a little girl," says Ms. Solari, the winner of the Poetry Award for her collection, "The Stolen World." "I think I wrote my first poem when I was 7. It was about a dancer because I was taking dancing lessons. Really, as soon as I could write, I wanted to write poetry myself."

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