Singing – No one would be more astonished to know that I have published a book than my English teachers from grade school through college. I struggled to put words on paper and only read books that were assigned. My time was spent practicing the bassoon and singing louder and higher than anyone else. With degrees in hand, I came to New York City and was paid to sing!
Fund Raising – It was time to reinvent myself. My sons and I needed a steadier income. I became a fund raiser for arts organizations. I soon found that raising money required very creative thinking, and I liked that. From time to time I was sent to places like Chicago, Santa Fe, London, Paris, Saint Petersburg, Tokyo. I especially enjoyed my trips abroad.
Traveling – I began to plan my own travels. A trip with World Craft Tours took a small group to northwest China, to East Turkestan (Xinjiang), where I met wonderful Uyghur craftsmen and their families. I visited the home of a basket maker who lived on a farm in the countryside surrounding Hotan. He sent his granddaughter to the orchard to gather peaches which she cleaned under a water spigot and offered to those standing in the yard watching her grandfather weave. I took a peach from her basket. She paused in front of me. Her eyes that had been so wary, so black and piercing, met mine and softened. She took the peach I had chosen and handed me another one. We smiled. Our communication was brief and had no words.
Writing – I reinvented myself again and received an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Maybe I didn't write when I was younger because I didn't know I had stories to tell. I discovered I had many and that I loved to tell them. The Vine Basket is my first published book. It is the story of the young girl who offered me a peach. In Factory Girl I imagined what a Uyghur girl’s life might be like if she were sent from her homeland to work in a factory in the south of China.
There are many more stories to come. The one book I remember from my childhood is The Little Engine that Could. That may be significant.
A wonderful moment at Vermont College with Katherine Paterson and Elizabeth Bluemle
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Marietta B. Zacker
Book cover art – The Vine Basket – Kyung Soon Park
Map art – Jennifer Thermes