Winners of Charles Shaughnessy's Morning Song Contest

by Susan Henderson on May 2, 2008

Thought I’d stop in after a long break and let you know that LitPark will have a new Question of the Month on Monday.

I finished my book edits and fully anticipate one more round, but feel pretty good [this used to say “great;” by tomorrow it will say “just awful”] about what I turned in. Have to say thank you to my agent, Dan Conaway, who is one spectacular human being, and made this whole process nearly a joyful one.

litpark agent dan conaway writers house
This is Dan. This is also why I’m not an artist.

What have I done since turning in my manuscript? I’ve looked to my greyhound, Steve, as my role model:

I’ve spent this downtime gardening, walking with my kids, playing soccer, lazing around with my dogs, going to readings (more on that near the end of this post), and slowly catching up on everything that landed in a to-do pile over the past few months. Thanks again for all the support and for giving me the space to get my work done. Hopefully, I’m through the hardest part.


Okay, so the reason I am posting something today is to direct you to the results of the Morning Song contest. Those of you who are regulars here know that Charles Shaughnessy ran a contest inspired by “Morning Song,” a song written by Robin Lerner and sung by David Habbin, both of whom were interviewed at LitPark.

I’m only going to post one of the winning entries to give you a taste because I want you to visit Charlie’s site. What he has to say about the entries is really lovely and begins with this: “What touched me the most was how so many of you did find a new appreciation for Life in the wake of loss, which is what I wanted this writing competition to be about.”

Here is Robin Grantham‘s winning entry. I chose to showcase hers because she has been a part of the LitPark community since the very first day, and it’s time you all knew her writing:

In my memory, I had his hand before he slipped away beneath the water. In my memory, I tried to hang on.

I don’t think it really happened that way. In truth, I think he just disappeared. We were kids at the lake, playing in shallow water, the Texas sun white and hot above us. When I saw he was gone I ran for help. Not fast enough, I kept thinking. Why can’t you be faster? My five-year-old brother, shorter and younger than most of his counterparts, always carried himself tall and proud, shoulders pushed back, chest stuck out. How tiny he looked on the side of the boat with that essence of him washed away, his chest only able to rise with the help of panicked breaths from my father.

They served hot chocolate at his funeral. I remember feeling dark and horrible that I wanted some. I was six. The day after his funeral, the neighbor boy came to the door. Toy rifle propped on one shoulder, Troy wanted to know if Ronnie could play. My father stepped outside to talk to him. He shut the door behind them so we couldn’t hear. I wondered why my father didn’t talk to me like that. I guess he couldn’t. Still, it’s my brother I’ve turned to over the years. He’s always there. He’s here now. In my mind, he defends me. In my mind, he’s the sort of brother who thinks no other woman can ever quite live up to his big sister. In my mind he’s grown into someone I can respect and admire; someone who would have done great things, someone I could only hope to live up to. In my mind, his chest is still out, his shoulders squared; bigger than life. In my mind, I have his hand and I never let go.


Quick note now on getting my head out of the sand. Was a real pleasure to see my friend, Robin Slick, read at The Boxcar Lounge the other night – a funny but heartbreaking story about all of the bad luck and near-misses you can have in this business. We met up with Kimberly Wetherell and didn’t have nearly enough time to hang out.

And then, you know, a few days later, you’re horsing around on the internet and reading blogs, and do you ever find that people have both taken your picture and posted it on the internet without you knowing about it?

Don’t you love that?

When I was in eighth grade, I remember getting back (for the second year in a row) a school picture with my eyes halfway closed. I was never one of the cool kids who listened to Molly Hatchet and had high-heeled clogs and a boyfriend, but I wanted to be one of those kids. And kind of your only shot was on the day everyone traded school photos and maybe you could get your picture into one of their wallets. But my photo was the kind you just didn’t trade. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d scan it in to remind some of you of those detachable lace collars you could snap over a sweater.

Anyway, here the three of us are that night. And I’m just saying, if you take a picture of someone with red glowing eyes, trying discreetly to grow out her bangs, and if she looks mean or stoned (even though she’s neither), you know, you might be reminding her of her loser junior high school days. But there you go. Lacey collar some other day.


Thank you to those who linked to LitPark this month: She Wrote, He Wrote, Falling up the Stairs, Shoddy First Draft, Vonnegut’s Asshole, Social Books, Countdown to Twenty-Four, Rioter’s Roost, pullquote, GreenCineDaily, Robin Slick’s In Her Own Write, and Curious Distractions. I appreciate those links!

Don’t forget to hop over to Charlie’s place to see the contest results, if you haven’t already. See you Monday!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn_Burns_Bass May 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Congratulations, Robin. I cried dry tears while reading this. Ronnie would have been proud of his big sister. In fact, I believe he is.

I’m looking forward to the reopening of the park gates. Hurry, Monday.


jodyreale May 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm

The nice thing about growing out your bangs, discreetly or not, is that you can do it at the same time you edit a book. Thanks for giving us a taste of the Park in the midst of it all, Rapunzel, with that winning entry taking the cake. Robin, that was quite a work of art, hon. Until next time…


RobinGrantham May 2, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Thanks so much for this, Susan. I take back the slightly unkind thoughts I had about you while I was crying over my keyboard.

And oh! You reminded me of an unfortunate period when I thought the best way to grow out my bangs was to pin them straight back, really close to the hairline. Cute on some people, downright frightening on me. Not a good period. I hope no one has photographic evidence of it.


RobinGrantham May 2, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Thanks, Carolyn. I hope he would be proud and not just mad at me for making my mother cry. I told her not to read it! Hopefully it’s a good thing.


RobinGrantham May 2, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Thanks much, Jody.


SusanHenderson May 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Choked me up, too.

Great to see you, Carolyn!


SusanHenderson May 2, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Happy to see you again, Jody! I’ve missed you guys.


SusanHenderson May 2, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Ha! I tried the barrettes at the hairline before, too. If I ever find a photo of that, I’m posting it, for sure.

Beautiful, beautiful writing, Robin. I didn’t know. xo


Kimberly May 3, 2008 at 10:16 am

EEK! Why I am grimacing? I’m certain we were laughing for the entirety of that wonderful evening! And no, never enough time…

Robin G – wow. Brava and congratulations and I’m so sorry all in one big waterfall of emotion.


SusanHenderson May 3, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Yeah, that photo does not show off the fun we were having, not one bit.

BTW, Mr. H is coming to the bbq, but I will be overseeing playdates and such.


Aurelio May 4, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Robin’s piece captures well the power of personality, and how the most important people in our lives really do seem to live in our memories and thoughts beyond their lifespans.

I’m glad to see a new LitPark post, and it does my heart good to see that candid photo. After all, as writers, we dig into ourselves and use every part of what we find, even the parts where we weren’t grinning like a Orbit Gum commercial. Photos should be appreciated in the the same manner. I think you are both lovely.


Xujun May 4, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Sue, glad to hear that you’ve finished the edits. Congratulations!


SusanHenderson May 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

Thank you, Xujun! You probably understand more than most how long I’ve been at this.


SusanHenderson May 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

I love both of your thoughts here. You’re a wise one.


terrybain May 5, 2008 at 5:39 pm

oops… posted in the wrong entry… not immune to weird posting errors…


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: