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Downtown

Princess of prose most inspired by a simple story captured — with words —

Andrew Scot Bolsinger —

Wordsmiths are as much a part of Ashland's milieu as panhandlers — and organically grown coffee beans. Within each of the many coffee joints — strewn about are plenty of all three.

But in a town where seemingly everyone with a keyboard — is writing a book of some sort, the likely leader of the pack is an unassuming — woman whose novels make non-descript people in non-descript places come — alive with descriptive splendor.

Ironically, the local princess of prose is more absorbed — by the wannabe writers and the simple people of society than any literary — royalty. Her stories come from the coffee houses of the world, not the — mansions. Furthermore, she implores all who aspire to write, to simply — do it: Write, for the sake of the story alone, is the lesson she teaches.

All of which makes Sandra Scofield's next statement all — the more surprising.

"I think this will probably be my last novel," she says — slowly, as if she is still getting used to the idea.

Better than fiction

After a 20-year career as a novelist, Scofield's writing — took a different turn with the release of her latest book, "Occasions — of Sin: A Memoir." Scofield found freedom while confined by historical — fact. "Memoirs," she points out, "are not a book. They are a reflection — on a memory."

As a result, the experience was both difficult and energizing.

First there was the problem of crafting the story within — the bounds of the facts. Getting stuck, a common problem in most writing — projects, required new solutions.

"There were lots of narrative shaping problems," she says.

Then came the "unforeseen emotionalism" of recalling events — from her own life, like the loss of her mother, now nearly a half a century — removed.

"It sounds naive," she says "but I was surprised by the — weight of sadness — that came with writing the book.

"The early writing was all over the place, emotionally."

Through the arduous work, a simple lesson here for the — minions of authors to be: Writing is not glorious or glamorous, but rigorous. — It's more like weight training, heaving the thick mass above your head — over and over again, than painting a beautiful sunset over the Riviera — - the 61-year-old author found a new way to fulfill her intrinsic need — to write.

"I love the writing (in "Occasions of Sin") and I'm thrilled — that it's published," she says. "Believe me, I feel really lucky."

The final novel

After the release of "Sin," Scofield knew she wanted to — return to memoirs. Many stories await her, especially, that of her grandmother. — The memory of her grandmother flitted around the edges of "Sin" but most — of it ended up on the cutting pile. "It just didn't fit," she said, choosing — to save the story and let it percolate into her next memoir.

Another memoir was given to her by a college friend. It — arrived in huge stacks each begging for a story to be told. The stacks — of paper contained long, detailed letters that Scofield herself wrote — during those interesting times as a young adult. Her friend had saved — them all.

But first a new novel, her final novel, called "Delight — in Lima," needed to be completed.

It is her third book that takes place in Mexico.

"It's really a town story, showing a middle-class town, — a pretty decent town in Mexico, where they are still shipping their kids — here (to the U.S)."

Scofield speaks Spanish, and travels to Mexico once a — year. The culture, the people and the challenges they face breathe life — into her story ideas.

"They are just living lives," she says of people in Mexico, — "and all their energy is spent living day to day." Which of course, Scofield — finds fascinating.

Telling the story

Scofield admits those 20 years writing books afford her — the privilege of writing more for the sake of the craft, than book sales. — She's mindful of the business side, aware that it's how she makes her — living. But she still sighs when thinking about modern publishing.

"It's got to be hot, it's got to have a hook," she says — shaking her head and waving her hands as if brushing away the very compromise — often necessary for commercial success.

She teaches a different value than simply writing to write — a bestseller, or to see you name in print, or to become famous enough — that Oprah calls with an invite to her show.

"Tell one story that if you don't put it down, it will — be lost." She says it with admiration for all those who do. Books don't — impress her, stories do. Especially stories well told.

For Scofield that's what it's about. That is enough. That — is all the reason in the world to write.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger is the Daily Tidings editor and — author of a novel, "If Pennies Could Talk." Contact him at: abolsinger@dailytidings.com