Barbara Weitzner is the grand prize winner of the Writers Mastermind 2021/2022 Short Story Contest with Away from the World and All the Horrific Things That Happen In It. Poignant and heartfelt, it explores the reflections of a remorseful man as he lives out the rest of his days in a nursing home during COVID. Barbara Weitzner has written and published various short stories and novels and placed third in the 2015 Writers’ Digest Short Story Contest. She tells us when and how writing took over her life.


Why We Write

By Barbara Weitzner

The reason I started to write was because I had retired from working. After the first few months of hanging around the house, a funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen for a snack. I changed direction and sat down at my computer and began to write a short story.

At first, my husband was thrilled. I was spending less time at the mall snatching up have-to-have bargains.

Sequestered in the den, smart phone turned off, I began to type my story.

In every story is the soul of the person who wrote it. I let the spell of each character, their words and thoughts take over until my characters seemed as real as family.

Soon, my characters were wearing me down. I did everything to raise them right, and as soon as they hit the page, they did anything they damned please.

Before I began to write my story, I was unable to button my jeans. With each hour spent mulling and deleting they began to hang pleasantly loose. While friends mulled over good restaurants and hairdressers, I worried about my protagonist’s unsavory personalities. Would my readers hate them, pity them, identify with them?  Wish them well or hell? Would I have any readers?

Family noticed my less than perfect manicure, my rounded shoulders, the slight squint I’d developed in my eyes, a growing tendency for my mind to wander away from conversations.

My husband warned me my lack of returning e-mail and telephone messages was beginning to alienate a lot of folks. “And forget about sex, I’ll settle for a good home-cooked meal. You never have time to cook. Shut down the computer and read the directions on the oven,” he grumbled.

Hubby peered over my shoulder to read a sexy paragraph. He cleared his throat. He squinted. I noticed his eyes watering, was he reading lines too shocking to be kept in focus? He began to show the first signs of his age.

My canasta partners got annoyed when I lay my cards in my lap to jot down an idea. Friends got annoyed when their phone calls went unanswered. Hubby got annoyed when I’d jump out of bed to rewrite a paragraph. I stuck to my guns with the sangfroid of John Grisham, and when I completed my story, I e-mailed my submission to Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition. (November/December 2015) and waited months for an e-mail from the Writer’s Digest Editors my nails chewed down to my cuticles. (This is not an exercise for the faint-hearted). I wanted to be published before I dropped dead of anxiety or old age. I made promises to myself; if I only win a mention I’ll give money to charity, I’ll donate blood, help at our local soup kitchen. I’d give up ice cream. Give up chocolate.

Recently, my husband, my best friend, the love of my life, has passed away. I am still grieving.

My books, THE MOST GLORIOUS THING EVER, THE BOUGAINVILLEA CLUB, and THE PARRADINE ALLURE were published by Solstice Horizons (I do not have those editions I’d given them all to family). My short story, AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS received honorable mention in the 2006 LA BELLE LETTRES short story contest. My article, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE, appeared in the September 2014 issue of SOUTHERN WRITING. My short story, FIRST LOVE was accepted for the 2014 fall issue of GEMINI MAGAZINE 2015. My short story HARRIETT S FATHER was accepted for TELL US A STORY December 2016 quarterly issue. I received an e-mail on 10/19/15 from The WRITER’S DIGEST Editors. My story won third place! And I am proud to have won first place in WRITERS MASTERMIND, for AWAY FROM THE WORLD AND THE HORRENDOUS THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN IT.


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