Memorial to Peggy Fielding Will Be the Topic at the scheduled Tulsa NightWriters Meeting in August. Everyone is Welcome to Come.
Peggy requested a memorial service be hosted this summer by the Tulsa NightWriters, the writer's group that Peggy supported throughout her life in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The evening was already scheduled for "The Foxy Hens" (Peggy and writing partners in several published books) to speak at the July meeting, so that will now be the evening dedicated to honoring Peggy Fielding. All are invited to share their favorite stories and remembrances of Peggy on this night.
Time: August 19, 2014 - 7:00 PM
Where: Martin East Library, 2601 S. Garnett Rd, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Graveside Service Held for Peggy Fielding
Peggy Fielding left this world on Wednesday morning, May 20, 2014. A graveside service was held at Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Wednesday, May 28th, 2pm. Romney Nesbitt (a Tulsa NightWriter and minister) presided. Mark Darrah gave the eulogy.
Eulogy Given by Mark Darrah at the Graveside Service
“Don’t you ever wear that orange shirt again!” Peggy said. We had attended an all-day Internet seminar with her publisher. I had worn a new, burnt orange plaid George Strait signature shirt direct from Drysdale’s. I kind of liked it, but Peggy said, “You must always wear pink, not that dreadful orange.”
Peggy later amended her color choices for me to include lavender and “maybe sky blue.” If I attended a Tulsa NightWriters meeting wearing a white shirt, she asked, “Where is your pink shirt?” Peggy would say this in a mimi-cry, like my bland shirt color was the biggest disappointment of her day. “Pink looks so fine on such a handsome man. You should wear it whenever possible.”
I ran into Peggy shopping at the market one Saturday. I wore overalls and a beat-up T-shirt. She wanted to know why I wasn’t wearing a pink T-shirt. When I told her I didn’t own one, she told me she would have to find one. After that, virtually every time I saw Peggy, she gave me an updated report on her quest to find me a shirt of her preferred color I could wear with my overalls.
“I went to the store last week...”
“I checked at the garage sale down the street...”
“I’m going to find you one...”
I didn’t get to know Peggy because I was one of her students or a member of NightWriters or a neighbor. I got to know Peggy because I hung out with members of Tulsa NightWriters at an Oklahoma Writers Federation convention in Oklahoma City a number of years ago. Peggy was in that group, and I wore a pink dress shirt and blue jeans one of the days of the convention. That’s when it started and it never stopped.
It would be easy to dismiss Peggy’s sartorial urgings as only a device for flirtation. Of course, it was in one sense, but was something more.
In those days when I first got to know Peggy, most of us white, middle-class, heterosexual males didn’t wear pink shirts, but I’ve always had one or two in my wardrobe. Pink shirts look good on someone with my coloring, and by wearing them, I made a statement I wouldn’t be bound by society’s expectations.
Peggy recognized those two things, I think, and that is what made Peggy such a fine teacher, colleague, and friend. She recognized the unique and the good in others and was relentless in making us see and develop those qualities in ourselves regardless of what anyone else might think. She saw the pink shirt of each one of us and strove to make sure we recognized it and appreciated it.
Even if that meant going to garage sales and rummaging through old clothes looking for perfection for you.
Memories of Peggy
Send your memories of Peggy to Dan Case (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I met Peggy Fielding at Tulsa Nightwriters many years ago, and, very soon, enrolled in one of her classes, "How to write a non-fiction book that sells." I had, up to then, sold dozens of feature articles and essays to magazines and newspapers, but never considered writing a book. Peggy convinced all of us in her class that we could do just that, and guided us on our way. Ultimately the book begun in that class (DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow) sold to a New York Publisher and was released in 1995. My career as the selling writer Peggy promised had begun.
I ended up taking every single writing class Peggy taught, whether or not I thought I was interested in the offered subject. Her humor, shared wisdom, good-sense business guidance, and encouragement became such a part of my thoughts as a writer that they continue to stay with me. Right at this moment, I can hear her voice, asking in each class (for example), "Did you write every day?" (Woe to those who answered "No.")
And, how many times since then I have heard and read about writers asking questions dealing with the writing business--from query letter writing through all the details of working with editors, to promotion--and thought, "Hm, Peggy taught me that."
Not only has she been my teacher, she soon became a very good friend to me and to my husband, John, and continued encouraging me in my career. She leaves a huge legacy to all who knew her.
I am deeply grateful, Peggy, and glad I told you that so many times throughout the years.
I still do.
I have so many great memories of Peggy, it’s hard to narrow them down! I remember how her cat had kittens in her desk drawer while she read our work at her weekly Writers’ Roundtable. She’d check on her cat now and then and let us know how many kittens were in the drawer.
I can’t tell you how many times she would scowl at me when I said something about having to clean the house, do the laundry, mow the lawn. With a distasteful look on her face, she’d say, “You’re very domesticated, dear. You should get your priorities straight. You’re too talented to be worried about cleaning and mowing. You should be writing!”
And every time I called or stopped by I would ask, “What are you doing?” And Peggy would always have one of three answers; “Writing.” “Reading.” “Editing.”
She told me many times of the first Nightwriters’ meeting she attended and how bored she was with the ladies there who read bits of poetry and passed around photos of their grandchildren. The group was a spinoff of the TulsaTuesday Writers. These ladies didn’t like meeting in the day and wanted to meet in the evenings, so they formed their own club. The Nightwriters.
“Where are your works published?” she asked them, and she said they looked at her as if she’d spoken in a foreign language. “I’ve had my poetry published and I’ve sold several short stories lately to a couple of the major True Confession magazines. I’m just wondering where I can read your published works.”
The ladies let her know that writing was a hobby for them, so Peggy made it her mission to recruit some real, hungry, dedicated writers into the Nightwriters. She and Mary Alexander added the needed spark to that group and kept it going and growing by recruiting her writing students both into the Nightwriters and OWFI.
Thanks for the chance to share some memories of my darling mentor!
I have lots of good memories of Peggy, although she used to scare me to death. She said once I should write confessions. I said I didn't think I would because I didn't have anything interesting to confess.
We talked about it a while and there was a title like "My Sister's Son Raped Me in the Church Parking Lot!" or some such thing. I didn't know jack about jack, but it never stopped me from talking. I said, "Oh, that can't be true. Who would even believe that?"
She looked at me and said, "Are there parking lots?"
I said there were.
"Do churches have parking lots?"
"Has a woman ever been raped in a parking lot?"
"Well, then," she said in her best teacher voice. "There's no reason it can't be true."
We all have some special story about Peggy and I have a pot full. But the night she came to stay at my house and speak at Ozark Writers League tops them all for me.
It all started out like this. Mother Peggy asked how many western short stories did I have?
"A hundred or more."
"Why aren't they published in an anthology?"
"I am not Louie L’amour."
"Bull. Go print them out. I want to read them."
I did not get much sleep that night until I made her a tall pile.
She took them home with her and wrote back in postcard "They are lovely."
On the phone I said, "Crazy woman they are old cowboy stories."
"I am going to find a publisher for them."
Now what Peggy said she’d do, she did. At the next OWFI conference she introduced me to Dan Case. We shook hands he published the book in 2004
Dan and I have sold and given away probably 30,000 copies of it over the last decade. That is not bad. Dan called and said what will we call it--I said off the top of my head "Waltzing With Tumbleweeds". It still sells respectably and the horse and rider on the cover is Chuck Sasser and a damn good roping horse that died shortly after the photo. He blamed Dan and I for his death… said we ran him to death on that cover.
Hey when we get to the great pasture in the sky, she'll be there waving a big wooden spoon at us, "I ought to spank you all for not writing and finishing more books."
Oklahoma won't be the same without her. God bless her and all her friends. She touched us all.
Peggy was my first writing teacher in Tulsa. I was a member of her roundtable for many years along with people like Margaret Daley and Debbie Camp. I don't think any of us would have published without her. She was a great lady and we have all lost a great treasure.
The first time I met Peggy Moss Fielding was at the first writers’ conference I went to in 1999, held by the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. Even then, I admired her spunk and wit.
Not long after that, some friends and I heard about writing classes she taught in her home to members of the Tulsa Nightwriters. Now, we were already members of the McAlester McSherry Writers, but there were no rules that said you couldn’t be a member of more than one group, so we joined and went to Peggy’s class.
If I remember correctly, that first class was on writing romance, but that’s neither here nor there.
Peggy was a stickler for writing every day, no matter what. We started calling her Warden Peggy. The only excuses ever granted would be with a note from the Pope or the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (or your denomination of choice).
It is in large part because of Peggy’s influence that I am (still) a writer.
I was a member ot Peggy's roundtable for 4 or 5 years. Peggy & the rest of the ladies helped me develop my writing voice. I sent her a card last week with the following ( I don't know if she got it or not):
Peggy: I haven't spoken to you for a while but I've always wanted to let you know how much I value your friendship & what a inspiration you've been for my writing & my life.
I feel like I won't always remain an "undiscovered" writer, but even if I do, you were a major influence in that endeavor (sometimes I curse you . . . just kidding). Writing helped me overcome a significant form of abuse from my father -- he was jealous of my intellect & in turn made me turn it off. Writing awakened my brain & gave me the skills to communicate & gain some self-esteem.
The only thing more important than communication is love & compassion -- the top three in my book.
You did magic for me & I will always call you my magical friend.
Love always, Michael Smith
Goodbye for now to Peggy Fielding
I met Peggy at my first OK Writers Conference, I think that was in 1980 and it was also her first conference after moving back to the states. We were both recovering from a divorce at the time so we hit it off right away and shared some confidences. Peggy changed my thinking and enriched my life. She introduced herself as the "funny fat lady in the Muumuu" and she carried an air of the wild women of the Islands with her. There was always laughter ringing out around her.
For several years, our Writers of the Purple Sage (from NW Oklahoma) had an ongoing contest with Peggy's Tulsa Nightwriters (from NE) to see which group could garner the most writing prizes at the annual OWFI conference. The two groups delighted in playing tricks on each other. Peggy and I remained good friends even though sometimes we didn't see each other all year.
Peggy used to say she became a good writer because Ray Fielding told her she couldn't do it. Ten years later when I told Peggy I had met someone, she remained pretty skeptical and asked me if I was sure I knew what I was doing. Peggy finally accepted my Jon and came to spend a few weekends with us.
Peggy was always an excellent writing instructor of any genre, and made herself available for helping other writers. One time she was driving her little pickup to teach a nonfiction writing class for me in OKC. She missed the Kilpatrick turn at I-35 & Memorial Road and wound up at a bar in Nichols Hills. She called me and this is the only time I ever saw her a little shook up. Jon and I picked her up and took her sightseeing and out for dinner before going back to get her pickup and bring her to our house. As usual Peggy had made a new friend, but failed to tell him where she was going. By the time we got back, the Bar-man had noticed her pickup still there and was calling the police to report Peggy missing.
I'll miss talking to you, Darlin’.
Hugs, Carolyn Leonard