June 22, 2021

Connection in Isolation: 35 Writers and Artists Show What It Means To Care

by joeyphoenix

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Story by Betsy Ellor

Let’s all take a second to appreciate how vibrant the creative community is on the North Shore. Artists, performers, and for writer’s like me: book shops, literary festivals and readings. It’s an amazing and inspiring place. Now imagine being uprooted and dropped into the distant, distant woods. I love hiking but trees are just not as good as other writers for bouncing ideas back and forth. When a work relocation forced me into that situation a year ago, what resulted was a book that brought me back together with my North Shore community.

HEROIC CARE  is a multi-genre anthology of single-sitting reads that takes on the question of what it means to care with stories, poems, micro-fiction, art, and comics. It grew organically, the way creative projects often do when sitting around a coffee table with other creatives, but this one grew virtually.    

It started with a Zoom call with some of my writer friends, where the idea of doing an anthology came up. There is no writing project more socially connecting than editing an anthology, so I decided to go for it. Most anthologies set out with specific parameters in mind. I wanted to be a little more vague and let the submissions I received determine the theme. 

With these goals in mind I put out a simple challenge: Show us what it means to care. 

I love variety, so there were no genre, length, or form limitations. Art, Illustration, comics, and writing in any form were welcome. It could be about any topic: lovers, parents, strangers, pets, anything storytellers might care about. When the submissions began to roll in, I was delighted by the quality, and knew this collection would fill readers with surprise and delight.  Here are some examples. 

  • A refugee mother sacrifices to provide for her children
  • A salty old author brings together a 20th-century father and son
  • New romance blooms in New York’s winter snow
  • In a dystopian world, one civil servant confronts how much she’s willing to give to save the species
  • A dog walker secretly runs a much darker enterprise for the good of her charges
Betsy Ellor

As I began compiling the final anthology, one unifying truth emerged: To care is to be brave. The act of caring about something or someone means allowing in the possibility of not only infinite joy but also infinite pain. It is always the things we care about most which cause us the most heartache. Yet, despite that huge risk, nearly everyone chooses to care every day. When I had all the submissions in front of me I stumbled on an Edward Albert quote: “The simple act of caring is heroic.” This became the organizing thesis.  

Through putting this anthology together I did something I cared about and it brought me closer to the community I care about, regardless of geography. The final 43 entries come from 35 writers and artists from 11 states and 4 countries with the North Shore making a strong showing (see the contributors listed below). 

In the month the book’s been out it’s been well received. It’s currently available at The Bookshop of Beverly Farms. It’s received many nice reviews and even broke into the top 30 in multiple categories on Amazon. I believe the theme resonates with a surprising number of readers, because we have all had to contemplate what we care about again and again this last year. Connecting with readers has been wonderful, but more importantly I renewed my own joy in the creative work I love. 

The Salem Athenaeum will also be hosting an outdoor evening event around the book with readings by the authors on August 27th, so mark your calendars.

To learn more: check out the book trailer and buy a copy at WordsUnboundStudio.com/Heroic-Care or on Amazon.

Local Authors Featured in HEROIC CARE :

  • Beth Anne Cooke-Cornell
  • Beth Price Morgan
  • Bobbi Lerman
  • Colleen Michaels
  • E.F. Sweetman
  • E.M. Panos
  • Ian P. Owens
  • Jill Pabich
  • Jim DeFilippi
  • Matthew Phillion
  • Susanna Baird

About Betsy Ellor

Until last year Betsy Ellor maintained ‘The Write Space’ for Creative North Shore. She writes for a variety of outlets, most often for Words Unbound Studio where she serves as editor. When not writing she spends her time talking to trees and battling prehistoric mosquitoes in the woods of Massachusetts.  

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