Something I Have to Do
There’s only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that’s a writer sitting down to write. – Mignon McLaughlin
Quips about writers and procrastination abound. But octogenarian Olivene Godfrey isn’t opting in. The 87-year-old writer is as relentless as ever in a writing career that has lasted more than forty years. Describing writing as a “compulsion,” she says she gets lost in the stories she weaves. It’s something I have to do,” she says. “I used to stay up all hours of the night when creating my initial draft.”
Today Godfrey, who began writing for newspapers in her forties, writes from her home in Chatsworth, Georgia. In addition to newspaper articles, she’s published several short stories and six novels. Godfrey sticks to a daily writing schedule, either dictating her stories to personal assistant Tam Little or writing by hand when her arthritis allows it.
She gave up newspaper writing after almost twenty years to concentrate on raising her son, Barry, and being a full-time homemaker. But the urge to write didn’t stay dormant for long. This time she tried fiction and instantly fell in love with the genre. Catch the Brass Ring, set in Chattanooga and north Georgia during World Was II, is her most recent novel. Godfrey has published two other novels–which she describes as “sweet romances”–in the states: Broken Cords and Seasons. She also sold three novels to a German publisher. Princess Moon Eyes, about a young northwest Georgia woman whose mother was a Cherokee Indian and her father an English American, became a bestseller in Europe.
Godfrey started writing long before word processing, computers, and the Internet, but the revolution didn’t pass her by. At 75, she started a blog which she says is “very different from newspaper writing” because of the less stressful pace. She posts at least once a week with the assistance of Ms. Little, who has been with her for four years. On “Mountain Musings” (mountainblog.blogspot.com) Godfrey relates memories and observations about life, as well as shares news about her current writing.
Ms. Little and son Barry are the wheels behind the publication of Godfrey’s three American novels to Kindle Direct. Speaking of Kindles, Godfrey owns an eReader but misses the “feel of a book” in her hands. She watches very little television, preferring instead to listen to old time country music.
Her favorite part of the writing process is creating the characters: “They become real, a part of me, and very much alive.” Godfrey, who hasn’t smoked in 16 years, recalls fondly how smoking a cigarette would stimulate her brain when she’d hit a snag in her plot. She’d run into a problem, and smoking often helped her solve it.
Even without cigarettes as a stimulus, Godfrey remains quite productive. Seasons and Catch the Brass Ring are available through amazon.com, and Godfrey and Ms. Little hope to have her new book, Princess Nunez, available this fall.
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