2023 Right to Write Award Recipient: Neena Elizabeth Pottoore

2023 Right to Write Award Recipient: Neena Elizabeth Pottoore

“I write by stealing time. The hours in the day have never felt as if they belonged to me.” Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting For Stone, The Tennis Partner, My Own Country, The Covenant of Water

This quote reflects my life so far. My time belonged to bringing in money and taking care of family and community. Writing was done during snack and lunch breaks, or stolen moments in the night when the children were finally sleeping, and I had a few minutes of adrenaline surge.
I kept telling myself that my time will come when I can finally let my stories pour out into the screen. However, here I am in my quinquagenarian, and I don’t have a completed work. Now I feel as though I need to own my time. If I don’t own it now, then when.

The “when” and “now” came in the midst of the pandemic shutdown. I have been writing ever since. I write without knowing the rules and boundaries. I soon realized that I was writing imitations of what I have read and observed. I still had to do the research. I needed to discover who I was.

Who am I? This question has followed me my whole life. Yes, I can identify myself as a female but is that the only aspect of me? I always identified as a “reader.” I read Nancy Drew stories, and Judy Blume taught me about the intricacies of being a girl in the throes of being an adolescent-pubescent teenager. Then I discovered the Sweet Valley High series and of course historical romance. What I didn’t see in all of this was “me.” These stories only reflected where I was growing up. They were about my neighbors and my classmates, nothing about my community. Where was my upbringing? Where was my community? Where was my set of rules about conduct and etiquette?

So here I am claiming my time to write and, in the process, finding out who I am. If I don’t do it now, then my twilight years will be filled with regrets and the question “Why not.”

Read more about Writeability and the Right to Write Awards here.

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