Meeting Connie

by Julia Simpson-Urrutia

The most acclaimed American writers’ magazine used to arrive at my Saudi post office a month late and badly mangled.  Every time I got its torn pages in my hands, I rejoiced.  It was so many things:  mail-order writing school,  link to the world of Western writers (their thoughts, pains, considerations), and a source of inspiration.

I could not enter the contests because by the time the magazine had arrived, and with calculations for the time that would be needed to make it through the freeze-frame world of the Saudi post office, my entries would never make the deadlines. It was enough that Lawrence Block and other pros shared writing woes, cracked j0kes and helped me improve my skills. They taught me about SASE’s, international reply coupons (which no longer exist, against all logic) and how not to take myself too seriously.

Six years after returning to the USA, I moved to Fresno, California and met a writer and judge for competitions held by that same magazine. Wish I could say I bumped into her, but no–I  submitted on spec!  Her neighbor was my friend, and I handed over a story.  Would Connie take me into her writing group?

“This woman is a professional writer,” Connie told my friend.   I was in!  Hooray!

Connie is the kind of writing partner every writer needs, and believe me, I had long tried to find one like her, not even quite realizing what I was looking for.  She is the kind of reader I try to teach my students to be for each other during draft workshops. (A blog for another day.)

Connie is exacting in her own style.  When she has a finished product, it is crisp, clear, pulls me forward, and leaves me wanting to know more.  There is humor, irony, unexpected twists in plots and a clear ability to put her finger on the details of human nature that  perplex us all.

As individuals, we are quite different.  For instance, I appreciate that others appreciate basketball; only she could get me to want to know more about the sport. In my book, that is what good writing is about.

4 thoughts on “Meeting Connie

  1. well i think this story is a great example of determination. when you have a dream, or a great love for what ever you love to do in life you need go after it full force


  2. I enjoyed reading about the wonderful feelings you had when receiving the magazine. I love to be happy and try to find happiness in the little things in life.
    I’m also passionate about friendship, which made me choose this blog. My family is very close and we pride ourselves on each others accomplishments, because we learn from them. The difference about us is what makes us a whole. Where one of us is weak the other is strong enough to work together to accomplish anything. How you describe your “Connie” leads me to want to know more…..maybe she’s part of your whole.


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