Peggy Simson Curry had no regular writing schedule because she taught in the Wyoming Poetry in the Schools Program, which she helped instigate in 1970. Traveling the state in her four-wheel drive Jeep, she taught primarily in outlying areas, dispensing juvenile verse and stimulating smiles, even from sixth-graders who considered poetry “sissy stuff.” She initially captured their interest by reciting a silly poem about frogs and toads.
Adults attended her evening creative writing classes at Casper College for more than thirty years. She also taught a writing class each summer at the Blind Camp on Casper Mountain. Her students were told to write what interested them, because she felt there was nothing sadder than a would-be writer with nothing to say. She told them to “relate your inner world to the world around you.” Some of her advice must have rubbed off on her son Michael, who earned his living as a public relations writer in California.
Curry’s writing techniques have reached around the world with her nonfiction book, Creating Fiction from Experience. She wrote, “Writing is a way of life. At best it's a rewarding combination of creative experience and creative expression. One cannot exist without the other. Memorable writing can happen only out of memorable living. How much authenticity and vitality appear in the written word is directly dependent on the writer himself. He is the fountainhead of all his fiction.”
A.B. Guthrie was her favorite western author. She enjoyed his “realism and writing skill,” and shared “the feelings he has for the natural world.” Reading exceptional authors of varied genres in bed at night was the way she liked to end her day.
The imaginative, emotional author said she wrote whatever happened to turn her on, “when I ride in the car, get up in the night, walk by a lake. I do work hard hours at the typewriter when an article, poem, or story takes over my imagination. But writing is never a grind in my life. I find great pleasure in being inspired to capture meaningful existence in words.”
When the impulse to write arrived, she used pen, pencil or her typewriter, whatever happened to be on hand. “I carry notepaper everywhere I go whether I’m fishing, hiking or having lunch with friends. I simply follow my impulse to capture what excites me, regardless of time, place or dream.”
Often one draft was sufficient, but at other times she wrote several . “Sometimes I know the conclusion of a poem, article or short story but many times I don’t. Characters do take over in fiction and are as alive as people I meet, listen to and see clearly. I record anything and everything that interests me—scenery, aspects of people, vagaries of weather, voices of the wind, history . . . I enjoy just recording things I’m interested in. It makes me aware of the relationship of my inner word to the world around me.”
(Excerpted from my book, Maverick Writers.)