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Column: Family ties and Churchill’s words
by Lauretta Hannon
June 27, 2013 10:53 PM | 4521 views | 0 0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: My sister is 6 years older than me, and while age doesn’t matter now that we are both adults, I think it’s part of the reason we aren’t closer. When I was 12, and in the beginning stages of really needing some older and wiser advice, she went off to college and only came back for holidays. During my years of teenage angst, I had to rely on girlfriends for advice and consolation. But now that I’m an adult, I want my sister back! I just don’t know how to engage her in a relationship. I used to call all the time, send emails, invite myself over to her house to spend time with her, but I find myself spending more time with my nephews and less with her. My fear is that she doesn’t care to be anything more than what we are now, which is distant, because she’s never taken the time to reach out to me. How do I go about building a better/closer relationship with her?

A: The question should be how you can accept the relationship as it is. You’re describing a very lopsided affair in which you put forth all the effort. Perhaps one day she’ll decide she wants a deeper connection. Until then, let her know you care and are there, but go on with your life.

Still make time for your nephews because aunts are important to a family. And who knows, this might spark something in your sister that brings her to you later down the road. Either way, your mission now is to work through the negative emotions attached to the issue and release them.

I know it’s hard, but I bet the weight of this is holding you down and preventing you from moving forward in this and other areas.

Q: I’ve always wanted to be a published author. Do you have any advice for a beginning writer?

A: Goodness, my mind is flooded with thoughts on this topic. But here are a few bits of advice to get you started.

-Watch, listen and pay attention. I love dining solo so I can eavesdrop and concoct stories about the people around me. Writers notice details that others overlook.

-Read. Consume as many books as possible. Be sure to read works in all genres, especially those outside your favorites.

-Learn the rules of grammar so that you can break them with authority later.

-Follow the wisdom of Winston Churchill. “Broadly speaking, short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.”

-Support other writers. It’s the right thing to do and you will benefit from being around like-minded spirits.

-Copy the masters. Terry Kay, author of “To Dance With the White Dog,” is my writing mentor. He recommends that we copy a masterpiece. I spent 15 minutes a day copying Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” by hand. This exercise taught me more about craft, rhythm and voice than I could get anywhere else. You don’t have to do this longhand; a computer keyboard is fine.

-Be okay with being a rotten writer. We all begin there. Dismiss the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough. Your job at this point is to do the work, not judge it. Editing can come after you produce the preliminary work. In time you’ll get better and better.

-Expect rejections. Ignore them like a distant cousin who has come to borrow money. Every “no” moves you closer to a “yes.”

-Now I’m going to get “woo-woo” on you. Know the writing you wish to write actually wants to be written. You just have to get out of its way. As Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

-Finally, writing ain’t for sissies. It is a tough row to hoe. Bulldog tenacity, saintly resilience and fervid courage are required. If it’s what you’re meant to do, you will have to write. So adopt a warrior stance, and get to work.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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