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I walk into a packed room. My son is at home with his father, grandfather and grandmother.

I have accepted a second job as a graduate assistant, and now begin my three year journey in graduate school.

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Zac Brown: I ride east every other Friday, but if I had it my way
The day would not be wasted on this drive.
And I want so bad to hold you.
 Son, there’s things I haven’t told you.

I stand back and observe. As in high school, popular girls find pretty popular girls. An intelligent girl, a Purdue graduate, picks me out. She leans down and sees MAT English on my name tag.

Nervous talk about England, her parents – both scientists with a PhD. – and her dreams to become an English professor.


At least four or five years younger than me. One year out of her undergraduate, she returns to the world of Academia.

Zac Brown: So I’ll drive
And think about my life
And wonder why that I slowly die inside
Every time I turn that truck around right at
the Georgia line and I count the days and the miles
back home to you on that Highway 20 ride.

Five years in the real world turned into ten. Some people say I look younger than I ever did, but I inside I am older than 28.

Two years as a journalist and everything that goes with it, betrayal of college friends, marrying too young and then divorce, a child whose creation divided two families, a love no one approved, and giving up a career I was unfit for …

She dreams of becoming a professor.

Days later, I attend open house at the school where I work, and hurry out to the office where I work as GA. I tell myself I’ve handled deadlines: going from a deadly wreck to a Christmas expo back to the office to call highway patrol officers. Yes, I can handle two part-time positions.

The syllabuses for classes are then presented. Late nights will become a custom.

What is gained?

A degree I want, which will improve the lives of my family members.

The sacrifice?

The most precious time with the one I love most.

Zac Brown: A day might come you’ll realize
That if you see through my eyes
There was no other way to work it out
And a part of you might hate me
But son, please don’t mistake me
For a (mom) that didn’t care at all

In the morning, I am on the road, and by the later half of it I leave for my second job. Classes follow. Late nights, feet dragging, enter the house with more work to do, but I’ve done it before.

This time I have a son in the mix.

Zac Brown: And I drive and I think about my life
And wonder why that I slowly die inside
Every time I turn that truck around
Right at the Georgia line
And I count the days
And the miles back home to you

Every time I write a story, I just write.

Every time I cook, I relax.


Every time I have asked for more hours or received new opportunities, I work for him.

How a working and student parent incorporates his or her child into a daily routine is different. This weekend, I took him to my college where I had to purchase a class packet. He got to eat on the campus, walk … run … around and see all of the people and books.

He has also met me at my job with my parents to eat lunch. It can be done …

Zac Brown: And my whole world
It begins and ends with you


Legends of the Edisto: How to Say Goodbye … For Now

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I stand by the black river.

It is the longest black river in the United States.

Nothing special about it when you first look.

Comparing the river to another is like comparing the Tarboro River to the streams in the mountains of North Carolina. It is murky, slow and ancient. Unless sun shines bright on the South Fork Edisto River you see nothing.

This is South Carolina.

I was raised in the upstate. Green hills rise up the closer you get to the North Carolina border. Larger trees grow in the forests, and when I think of the Catawba River, it is home.

But I chose to center my project of seven years around the slow, black river.


The South Fork Edisto River shaped the town in which my grandfather grew up. It inspired him. My grandmother read to him in their secret spot next to the river. They never revealed where, but Dad said my grandparents crossed a certain area in the car and always said “hello.”

When I think of my geographical trips to Bamberg, I try to look at the river through the eyes of Owen Alston. It is a place he wants to leave, yet the black water is a comfort because it is home.

Now, as I return to the present, a computer screen and a television in the background; it is time to let go.

Although I will brush up chapters in Sons of the Edisto and share Legends of the Edisto, there are other stories to write.

How do you know when to let go?

If you’ve worked on a novel for as long as I have, you edited, you researched and came to an understanding about the business side of writing. You expanded your writing world beyond one book to stories, poetry and maybe non-fiction.

You keep trying to find representation or publish the work while you work on other projects.

My eleventh grade teacher said Zora Neale Hurston worked on Their Eyes Were Watching God
for a long time, but eventually the book was done. The book was not the way she wanted it, but it was what the publisher wanted.

I lost count of how many trips I took to Bamberg, how many times I stood next to the black river, researched at the South Carolinana Library and edited Sons of the Edisto.

I reached a place where I am happy with the work I have done. The story flows. I wrote a query letter that fits the plot. Characters are more rounded. History is not too overwhelming as it was when I first began writing. Five years ago, I understood contemporary narration, and a mentor steered me in the direction to write Sons in present tense.

On the eve of starting graduate school and returning to my jobs, I received news of another story to be published in December. It will be my third this year. The accomplishment reminds me of how I’ve gone from one novel to short fiction, non-fiction and returned to poetry.

When I leave the black river, it is not forever. It weaves slower and slower until you find another one. This river is faster with blue-gray water pouring over rocks.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson


Authors, poets and writers walk a tight rope.

On one hand, we want to show off our work and see if it’s any good. We want to market ourselves and our primary projects.

Some authors gamble and publish their pieces online. Some succeed with e-books or as self-published works while others do not. Whether those books succeed or not, a thought process was behind them. I want to put my work out there.

Which brings us to why the rope is tight … Artists, of all kinds, value their work. Many do not want to just put out. Your work is better than that. Mine is better than that.

The other railroad track connecting to the above idea is copyrighting. While we want to establish relationships with other talented authors and writers, we do not want people stealing our ideas.

A friend of mine called me earlier this week, and said she was nervous someone was stealing her idea for her book. This happened while she was on a research trip. I informed her no one could take her story. She was just having a writer freak out party in her head.

It happens to all of us.

So what do you do?

Try to publish pieces in journals connected to your work.

It’s old-fashioned, but I have been fortunate enough to have three pieces connected to Sons of the Edisto published. It took time. I had to research, write cover letters, edit and find journals that would publish historical fiction. Thank you, Duotrope. (It now costs five dollars a month, but it is a fantastic tool for writers.)

Those publications meant: Someone likes my story. They actually like my story.

Don’t let it go to your head too much. You still have all that editing, agent and publishing research work to do.

Share what is or what inspired your work.

I have tried to do this before on my blog by writing parts based on my prescripts for Sons of the Edisto. The prescripts are seven back stories I wrote about the families in Sons of the Edisto. I wrote a mini-series based on my bad guy’s family The Bannister Histories.

Why did I stop?

I just did not have time to write the little stories when I was trying to complete Sons of the Edisto, begin Elliot McSwean, be a mom, work and feed my family of six.

There is always a way if there is the will.

Play with Friends.    

Now I will take the concept of sharing with friends and apply it to parts I can share of Sons of the Edisto. There are multiple aspects from characters, to research, editing tools I used, geography, what inspired the book and photographs.

I promise I won’t go history professor on you.

I hope to see you next week for Legends of the Edisto.

Painted Blue: When you Call us Freeloaders

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A man goes to get his MRSA spot treated.

He has no insurance and is considered by some to be a non-entity.

Two years ago, the doctor prescribed medicine for which he paid for out of his own pocket.

Today the doctor refused to look at the man’s records.

“I’m not concerned about then,” he says.

He will not prescribe medicine without a series of treatments beyond what the man can pay.

Into the room came a lawyer. Not a doctor.

The doctor had the man sign a waiver that he refused the offered treatment. Neither a doctor nor nurses gave the man a wrap for his oozing arm. Not when they could be held legally responsible.

A woman at the front desk gives him one paper towel.

This man is me.

I have no race.

My upbringing was white collar, but my soul is blue. I am the American worker even if my job is not there.

Blue collars pop up everywhere.

Sometimes you do not see us. Sometimes you spot us in line at the grocery store pulling out our vouchers or food stamps to feed our kids. Maybe you stare, curse, or roll your eyes and move to another line.

Blue pumps in the blood, in pride and a walk. It is in all ethnicities, education and backgrounds. Some have disabilities while others have children with disabilities.

Those employed work two jobs, others are between jobs and some sit in front of a computer at a library. We have thirty minutes to use the Internet to do our job searches or send a résumé.

We earn an MBA and have lost our high dollar income. Others of us have high school diplomas and build big things with our hands. Our children take free-and-reduced lunch. We stand in line with food stamps, WIC or both. We hear the doctor tell us we must spend $500 for a starting treatment.

Whispers carry when you stand in line at the grocery store.

“Get a job freeloader.”

A child hears you. He or she looks into your face and knows what you think.

This working class of Americans goes to school, has gone to school, work several jobs, or share one car with their families. Some of us have lost our job and our homes. We write, paint, build or tell stories.

News says the recession is getting better.

Thirty-one percent of younger Americans live at home with their parents and look for jobs.

The housing market is recovering, some say.

You whisper your tax dollars are used by people who abuse the system.

Tomorrow the man who refused treatment will return to work on a metal roof. He will work from seven in the morning until the sun is almost gone.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Whatever your cause, raise your voice and write.

Thank you to all those for their support in the publication of “From Red Loam” in The Copperfield Review.

Seventh Publication in The Copperfield Review

Courtesy of The Copperfield Review, The Copperfield Review publishes historical short fiction and poetry.

The Copperfield Review published my poem, From Red Loam, in its Summer 2013 edition.

The poem is the intro for the story collection Red Loam, which is connected to Sons of the Edisto. It is the third publication from the Red Loam collection, and my seventh creative publication.

To read From Red Loam,

I dedicated this piece in memory of Becky Swindell in my bio. She was my Dad’s cousin, who helped me in understanding history in Bamberg, South Carolina.

Thank you to readers. Thank you to supporters. I appreciate all your support!

By Rebecca T. Dickinson