CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She maintains a blog at www.chrisricecooper.blogspot.com. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
Painting by Christal Ann Rice Cooper
Friday, February 10, 2017
Friendships Among Women Lead to the Anthology A SECOND BLOOMING: BECOMING THE WOMEN WE ARE MEANT TO BE
“When another friend who also lives in the neighborhood told me that
there was a writer living in the house across the street from me, I was so excited.
I can’t remember whether I got her phone number and called her first or just
knocked on her door, but I do remember it was love at first sight. I had lost a
dear friend to cancer about six years early. Like Sally, she had been somewhat
of a mentor to me, living into her eighties. At the same time, I was losing my
mother to Alzheimer’s (she died last May at age 88). So Sally came into my life
just when I needed an “elder.”’
The two writers became dear friends,
writing together, attending writing salons together and conversing about
life.It was in February 2015 that Susan
was sitting at her kitchen table with Sally, conversing about women and the
stages they go through, regardless of age.Out of that conversation an idea for an anthology about women entering a
second stage of life was conceived.
three paragraphs of the Introduction to A
Second Blooming describe a conversation I had over a cup of coffee with
Sally Palmer Thomason one morning about two years ago. Sally lives across the
street from me, and we have become close friends. I would also call her a
mentor. She’s in her early eighties, but when she was my age—65—she got her Ph.D.
in Aging and published her first book, The
Living Spirit of the Crone: Turning Aging Inside Out. I had hosted a
literary salon at which Sally spoke about some of the concepts in her book, and
we had ongoing discussions about what I came to understand as the “second half
Much of this
thinking came from reading Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward: A Spirituality For the Two Halves of Life.As Sally and I were visiting that morning
in February of 2015, another friend stopped by.
That friend was Jen
Bradner whom Susan first met when she hosted a literary salon at her home.
vibrant—one of those souls you just want to know right away. She was the
administrative director of the Memphis Symphony and she just sparkled. Jen
Bradner is in her forties, just a year or two older than my oldest son, she was
an “old soul” and I didn’t feel an age gap with her at all. I’m so thankful we
met and she helped to inspire this book!
The three of us continued the discussion. I
was itching for a new project, being somewhat “stuck” in the process of
revising a novel. With Sally and Jen’s help, the idea for an anthology was
conceived, and I invited both of them to contribute essays.”
Jen and Sally
Susan set to work right away, wrote a book
proposal and sent it to various publishers and inviting her choice of women
writers to contribute essays to the anthology.She received responses quickly – almost every one she invited to
contribute said yes, and Mercer University Press accepted her proposal.
Marc Jolley, director of the press, said in an email that even if they didn’t
get to publish the book, he would buy it for his wife when it came out! I ended
up with two offers for publication, and made my choice based on Mercer’s
excellent reputation and recommendation from a couple of the authors who were
writing essays for the book.”
Susan organized the essays into
groups according to themes, and collected quotes to head each of the five
sections:I.Blooming through Surrender;
II.Blooming after Loss; III.Blooming in Place;IV.Blooming Again…and Again; and V.
Blooming in Careers and Communities.
The manuscript includes
Acknowledgments; Introduction; and Contributors Biography.
It also includes a Forward by Anne
Lamott “Becoming the Person You Were
Meant to Be:Where to Start’.
was so much fun to put together… it didn’t really feel like work, although I
know I spent hours and hours on it. I was excited to get permission to use a
piece that Anne Lamott had published in O
Magazine as the foreword. I learned a lot through the process of acquiring
permissions for several other previously published essays, and of course I
learned much from the editing process. The whole time I was working on the book
I found myself thinking, “This is more fun than writing a novel!” I think my
organizational and editing skills are better than my writing.”
The title went through several
changes, but Susan settled on A Second Blooming when one of the
contributors shared this quote by Agatha Christie: “I have enjoyed greatly
the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of
personal relations and suddenly find—at the age of fifty, say—that a whole new
life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study or
read about…. It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.”
“I sent it
off to the press. The next step was working with the press’s editors once they
sent me the galleys to proof. This stage was easy, as the editor I worked with
was so excellent. My work was done, and then the waiting started. It took about
a year from inception to proofing galleys, and another year until publication.
During the waiting I was able to give input on cover design (I love the cover!)
but otherwise, it was just a time to wait.”
And finally the time
is here – in less than a month A Second Blooming:Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be will be published by
Mercer University Press and available for purchase on March 1, 2017
I have since learned that my recognition of
truth most often occurs after the fact.
I learn from seeing the backside of God, as we are reminded in Exodus
when Yahweh and Moses have a little chat.
I have come to know that humiliation often is the beginning of
humility. And gratitude.