Thursday, December 11, 2008
Writer chronicles journey back to God
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County area continues to draw an eclectic group of new citizens. These individuals bring their stories, talents and energy to expand and enrich the culture of the area.
The South Reporter recently learned of a new resident who is a budding writer, and is also contributing some of her time and energy to Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs.
Kay Harper Sons has lived at Snow Lake Shores for a year and a half with her husband and son. She made her first appearance in this area as a young girl when she visited her aunt, Blanche Harper, now deceased, who owned homes on Snow Lake and in Memphis.
Sons, a writer and actress, has written a prize-winning short story – one in a collection of stories, poems, essays and songs which is currently being considered for publication by a Nashville-based publisher.
The rest of the story is told by Sons in her words:
“Several months ago I entered an online writing contest,” she said. “Recently I received word that my short story, ‘When I Went to the Moon with a Wink and a Prayer,’ had won the 2008 Preservation Foundation Award for General Nonfiction. Earlier this year the same story was a prize-winner in Memphis Public Library’s ‘Write Your Story’ contest.
“The tale is set in the early 1960s – a time when children enjoyed freedom that would be unthinkable in today’s world. My parents put me on a train alone, asked the porter to look after me during my three-hour journey to Memphis, and trusted that he would. I was all of 9 years old. Writing the story helped me preserve this precious memory.
“I’m originally from a small town in southeast Missouri where I enjoyed exploring our neighborhood and beyond while tagging along with my two older brothers. My father was a local business owner and my mother a homemaker par excellence. At a very young age I discovered a love for singing, dancing and most of all, acting.
“Being rooted in one place created a longing in me to move around, and move I did as soon as I graduated from high school. For the next 30 years I lived in Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Northern California, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southern California, Georgia, Florida and finally Mississippi—logging in some 34 homes in the process.
“Although I had been raised a Christian, during my wandering years I rejected anything having to do with God, choosing to live life my way as I doggedly pursued an acting career. I studied theatre at three universities before moving to New York in 1977 to give show business a try. While I did not succeed, it was an incredible adventure, and I am thankful I tried. Ironically, after 12 years of struggling to be an actress, I discovered an even truer love – writing.
“In 1987 I penned my first short story. My first writing teacher said, ‘Write what you know,’ so I drew from my life experience. Writing soon became a means to preserve the good and let go of the bad. After putting my memories on paper for 20 years I realized I had written a book, more specifically, a memoir. I call it ‘Stumbling Into Grace, A Prodigal Daughter’s Long Journey Home.’ It is my testimony of the spiritual journey God allowed me to take away from Him, because He knew it was the only way I would ever find my way back to Him.
“While the details of ‘Stumbling Into Grace’ are unique to my life, there is a universal message. We all stumble from time to time. However, it is our willingness to get back up that determines the richness of our experience.
“I love the Bible stories in the book of Exodus. There was a whole lot of stumbling going on back then. Not only did the Israelites turn an 11-day trip from Egypt to the Promised Land into a 40-year ordeal, they did it whining and complaining all the way. Why? They rejected God’s guidance. They wanted to do things their way—so they wandered.
“I have a lot in common with those Israelites. I, too, turned my back on God, choosing, instead, to wander in a wilderness of my own design. It took years, but God is faithful. The Israelites finally made it to the Promised Land, and so did I (in the form of renewed faith).”
To read Sons’ prize-winning short story, “When I Went to the Moon with a Wink and a Prayer,” visit www.storyhouse.org, and click on the passenger train located on the top-left of the page.
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