Welcome to the six hundred and twenty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with memoirist, non-fiction author and spotlightee Barbara Barth. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello again, Barbara. Please remind us about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Barbara: Death, Dating, and Dogs in Decatur, Georgia. I laugh and like to sum up my memoir with those words. Humor has saved my life when I thought I couldn’t move. Becoming a widow three months before I turned sixty was not in my life plan. My husband and I lived together twenty years and then married for another five years. We had no children, except our two dogs. I was retired from my job with the Federal Government and, while I dabbled in selling antiques, I realized I had nothing to do after he died. I sat on my sofa in total panic that I was alone.
Late at night I sent pitiful e-mails to friends, who were not up at that hour to answer. I’d listen to music, play with the dogs, and then send another e-mail with the words, “never mind”. No one ever acknowledged my craziness. But I knew I needed to get control if I was going to deal with the word “widow” and find my place again. I needed to jump start my life quickly or give in to grief. I started dating within three months to get out of the house, bought a vintage Corvette that I never drive, and let the universe guide me to my path. I became a dog hoarder.
Writing became my tool for dealing with the pain. At first I wrote to clear my head of demons. Then, along the way, a funny thing happened. I discovered I loved to write. I liked putting words on paper (in this case Word) and working with dialog. I went from being sad, to finding pleasure in the late night hours, writing my story with my own brand of humor.
Now I have to write, not because I am alone, but because it is in my blood. I feel cheated if I don’t write every day!
Morgen: It’s great that something positive came out of your situation. Writing can be very therapeutic. You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Barbara: I decided to share my story on finding a new life for myself. My memoir is a series of essays over a year doing all those things I never thought I’d do again. It is very personal and no subject is off limits. One of my older friends, as in age, read my book. She is very dignified. I worried a bit about how she would view me afterwards. While we have known each other in the antique world for many years, we had more of a business friendship. Soon after she finished my book we met for lunch. “I was really surprised at something I read.” She looked me straight in the eye and I thought, oh no, here it comes. My mind immediately went to my dating misadventures. “I can’t believe you only own one bra!” We had a good laugh about that. I now own more. But that little tidbit came out in an essay on always being late. My new rescue dog swiped my bra and was chewing it in the living room as I was frantically trying to get to my part-time job. She and I now have lunch weekly and talk about everything under the sun!
Morgen: How funny (especially when I first thought that you and your dog had lunch weekly and talked to each other!). What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Barbara: The Unfaithful Widow is my first book. However, every night I write essays on life as I see it, as a sixty-plus single female leading a creative life with a six dogs at home. My essays are on many sites for women, including Silver & Grace in Canada, Skirt.com in the United States, and most recently in On Purpose Woman, a magazine in the metro Baltimore, Maryland, area and on Speak Out Friday with Women On Writing (WOW). I was featured in Silver & Grace’s e-book Women Who Make A Difference. I am a member of the blogging team for Lifetime Television’s ‘The Balancing Act’, a morning TV show for women, where I post online as the CEO of Life on Monday (Creative, Energized, and Old Enough To Know Better).
In December 2010, I published a one-time, twenty-six page, e-zine for rescue dogs and vintage dog art called Writer With Dogs: The Magazine Where Dogs Meet Art. You can still view it online today (http://www.epaperflip.com/aglaia/viewer.aspx?docid=4e65b04193e346d08143d5c6c2d36a22).
I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have many of my own blogs, one for every interest it seems, and I am always posting on them too. Miss April In Paris, my big hunting dog, had her own blog for a few months where she dreamed of going to Paris. It turned out to be kismet. While on a book blog tour with Women On Writing, I landed on Tilly The Dog site in England. The post had to be written from the dog’s point of view. Miss April in Paris had her blog to share!