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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Marcia Butler recently visited the Medfield Public Library. Her talk was the first installment of the library’s Spring Author series. Due to a Bruins playoff game, there was a small audience, making it a perfect opportunity for those in attendance to learn something new about writing and creativity.
Marcia Butler has become a jack of all trades when it comes to the arts. She spent the first part of her professional life as a professional oboist in New York City. In the early 2000s, Butler began to transition to working in interior design and became quite good at it, earning awards and recognition for her work. In 2016, she moved on from her work in interior design and began writing - first about interior design and then moving into a more creative realm. She published her first book in 2017. "The Skin Above My Knee,” Butler's memoir, gained recognition from the Washington Post, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly. Her most recent book tests her skills even more, moving from memoir to fiction territory.
Her new book, “Pickle’s Progress,” is centered on the lives of four characters living in Manhattan over the course of five weeks: identical twins Peter “Pickle” and Stan McArdle, Stan’s wife Karen McArdle, and Junie. Butler provided brief summaries about each character, including what makes them tick and her inspiration behind each one. Stan and Karen find Judy on the Washington Bridge, moments after her boyfriend has jumped off, leaving her behind, despite making a suicide pact with him. “It’s a gnarly story about people trying to find love,” said Butler during her talk.
Butler took inspiration for the story from her own life and from events occurring in New York City. For example, the idea for Junie came from a news story she had read about a couple that jumped off the George Washington Bridge together. “It’s so unlikely that two people would come into that headspace at the same exact time,” she observed. “There’s no logic there.” After reading the story, Butler wanted to explore what must have been going through the couple’s heads when they decided to jump.
During the question and answer portion of the talk, audience members were welcomed to ask questions about anything, from Butler’s life to her careers to writing “Pickle’s Progress.”
One audience member asked about her transition from writing non-fiction to fiction. Writing “Pickles Progress” has been a very different experience for Butler from writing her first book. For her, it was almost like being given a new type of freedom when it came to her creativity. “I no longer had to write about myself,” she said. “There was freedom of not knowing what was going to happen to the characters, making up stories and finding my way through that tunnel.” She added that she thinks that not knowing is where some of the best creativity comes from. “The best place for creativity is not knowing. When you sit in the place of not knowing, you can access where you can know.”
For audience members, Butler’s talk gave a unique look into the writing world. Members left with a new book, a new way of looking at the world, and a newfound confidence in their own writing ability.