Exercising voting and speaking rights
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – I feel privileged that I can vote for any party or candidate that I want to. It wasn’t like that before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. There was one party ticket only: The Communist Party.
I realized that earlier this morning as I voted in Vergennes Township Precinct 1. I cast the 82nd ballot, soon after dropping off Ella at St. Pat’s summer care program around 9 a.m. I got the sticker, “I voted.”
I convinced my parents to vote only a few years ago. My husband Ludek and our son Jake will be voting in the November general election for the first time. By then, they will be naturalized American citizens.
As the church bells rang, I knew they were also the bells of freedom: the freedom to vote and the freedom of speech.
I exercised that freedom last night at the “Emerging Artists” event organized by the new LowellWrites group. Back in my Czech homeland before the fall of the regime, we could never ever give any speeches about anything. Unlike the “right to work”, freedom of speech wasn’t one of the rights we had.
That’s why late president Vaclav Havel was jailed so many times, because he spoke openly against the regime. I talked about him being my role model and my personal hero during the event.
“He was also a playwright,” I told my friends last night. “He spent a lot of time in jail.”
I am always amazed at how much one man or woman can accomplish in a lifetime.
“And then, they go out and do more,” states one commercial.
So, true. People who do great things go out and do more great things. I’ve learned that in meditations; to detach from the outcome. You can’t influence the result of anything, but you can be an integral part of it.
Havel knew he would go back to jail, but he never ceased to fight for freedom. As I watch the Facebook news feed, I do not understand why a lot of Czech people do not like Havel.
Once, I posted: “He was in prison also for your freedom.”
You should have seen the outpour of anger.
“He had it better in prison, than you have it in your living room,” was one comment that I will never forget.
The person missed the whole point that Havel fought for freedom for all Czechs and Slovaks, and ended up in prison for that like Nelson Mandela. But the comment went further to qualify that Havel maybe had a TV to watch and a typewriter to write, plus implying that I might not have either one of these tools.
Since I do have a laptop and the freedom of expression, I am sharing my Aug. 6th the speech during the “Emerging Artists” event at the LowellArts Gallery.
Thank you for having me, Lowell Arts and Deb.
Most of you probably know me as the roving reporter for the Lowell Ledger running around and chasing after stories, day or night, sweating during the Kent County Youth Fair, that is going on right now.
Tonight, I am here on a different venture presenting my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories,” which is a collection of 13 short stories based on my immigration, retail and journalistic experiences spanning more than two decades. Based on this, I divide the stories into three circles.
Although, I’ve always wanted to hold my own book in my hands and see it on the shelves of local bookstores, it wasn’t until 2017 that I made it happen. I realized if I didn’t put the short stories together, into a published collection, they would get lost.
That’s why I call it also a historic preservation project. I wrote the first story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in 1990 on a Smith-Corona Word Processor and the last one “Orange Nights” in 2017, partly on my tablet in my favorite hair salon.
My entire writing and publishing journey has been inspired by our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia. My father professor Vaclav Konecny has been my role model all along. I based the character Martin Duggan on him.
I fictionalized the character, the university town of Rocky Rapids and the crazy “actions” of the professor. This one could be easily billed as the wildly popular “historical fiction” category.
The professor was perfect except for one incident……….
That brings me to the circle of stories based on my journalistic experience. These too could fit the “historical fiction” category. In “Iron Horse,” while covering hometown politics, I was inspired by a story of a township supervisor who got recalled in a special election by his own people. And the reason for recall: a pig farmer with the stench from the operation reaching the supervisor’s resort.
A herdsman’s wife Deb organized the revolt.
I captured the recall process in a series of articles.
These were the back up questions, we never got around to, because the audience was actively participating in the discussion moderated by poet Ian Haight of Germany.
People often ask me, why do I write and what are my goals?
Purpose of an artist; why do I write?
- For me writing is a passion that I cannot get rid of. I tried unsuccessfully several times. It never worked. I’ve always returned to writing in some shape or form.
To continue writing to provide a respite from the real world that is to entertain people.
Growing as an author
- With the publication of my book, I have grown a lot as a writer. People look up to me for writing and publishing advise; how to get their writing projects done. Being an author means sharing information.
- The process of art:
Why did I create it?
So, the stories don’t get lost.
Where did the inspiration or motivation come from?
From our immigration saga; that my father had to overcome many obstacles to get where he is now. By that, I mean both physically and emotionally. One of the obstacles was my own mother who did not want to emigrate, leave Czechoslovakia. My other role model is the late president Vaclav Havel.
I even find inspiration in politics. That’s where the historical fiction category kicks in.
Was it hard to create this piece of art from start to finish?
Yes, it was. In the beginning I did not know where I was going with it. I had no idea that the stories would end up in a book.
Why share this piece?
Because they are part of the human experience, with struggles, obstacles and victories along the way.
And as I was quoted in the Grand Rapids Magazine:
“I know that it might sound cheesy, but even though not all the stories have happy endings, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is either good or bad. It isn’t always that clear.”
That’s why the sequel.
What does it mean to me?
To me it is the product of many years of hard work; kind of like when you get a degree after years of work. But, I think it goes deeper than that.
It’s more like a solo creation for others to enjoy.
What do you hope people will take away from it?
Definitely, a deeper understanding of human character, and why people do what they do.
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