South Charlotte

Writing fulfills her love for narrative

Whether it's writing a memoir, poem, novel, short story, essay or play, Wyndham resident and author Pat MacEnulty writes in the genre that suits her at the time.

She likes learning something new, but she admits that "it's a bit of a problem."

"Publishers have a hard time pegging me and marketing me. If I found a particular track or niche and stayed in it, then I might have a wider audience, but I just can't do that," she said.

"I want to be challenged and that's the thing about writing, I don't ever feel like 'Oh, I've got it now because I think if that happened, I would stop doing it," she said.

It seems that MacEnulty's artistic inclinations should have leaned toward music since she came from a family where her father, mother and two brothers were all musicians.

"At a young age, I loved narrative. I just loved story," said MacEnulty. "Some people have said that the musicality comes through language for me."

In 1999, MacEnulty moved to Charlotte and almost three years later her first novel, "Sweet Fire," was published by Serpent's Tail. She followed it with four other fiction books, including a crime noir and a short story collection. The writing process for her latest, a memoir, differed from the others because there were "not as many filters," she said.

"When you're writing fiction, you're very conscious of craft, and I don't think I was particularly conscious of craft in this book," she said. "The memoir in some ways comes more directly from my heart, than my head."

"Wait Until Tomorrow: A Daughter's Memoir," chronicles her life while caring for her aging mother, tending to the needs of her husband and teenage daughter, and juggling her responsibilities as a college professor. Her mother, Rosalind MacEnulty, an accomplished composer, conductor and pianist, served as musical director for "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama for a quarter-century, lived at the Regency Retirement Village in Charlotte and recently died at age 93.

For MacEnulty, the discussion about aging has just begun.

"I would like to speak to more caregivers....We need to talk about how to carve out a life for ourselves and all these pressures we're under and what we're going to do about our own aging," she said.

When she's not working on a new book, MacEnulty, an English professor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, teaches others in her classroom and in workshops she leads. She's writing a blog about what she calls "the transformative power of writing."

"I think we write because it transforms us, an experience, or our readers. Really good writing opens us up in some way. It changes us, changes our perspective," she said.

She feels that all genres of writing are transformative.

"I do these workshops with people and I can tell that the writing we really meaningful to them. A lot of people are longing for a way to understand their lives and make meaning out of their lives," she said.

"Writing for me and I think for many, many people, gives me a voice."