R. S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Throwback Thursday: 9/18/14


July 1995:
On the back deck at my family’s house in Franklin, the summer before my senior year at the University of Georgia. Here, I’d just come home from my summer job as a Kelly Services temp (my first “office job”). This navy-and-white polka-dotted dress was one of my favorites. My sister and I traded it back and forth for another ten years before it finally wore out. The gold watch was a high school graduation gift from my mother. I still wear it all the time.

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Wednesday Photo: 9/17/14

2014-05-14 13.52.41

No Crimson, All Clover
Villa Rica, Georgia – May 2014


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“Gone to Be an Angel”

2014-06-03 18.47.30 HDR

The marble is so discolored that I can’t tell what type it is. Knowing a bit about geology, though, it’s likely Creole or Murphy marble, quarried from a half-mile-deep vein up in Pickens County.

Time, rain, and wind have worn the marble lamb’s face, yet its loving expression remains. Against the patient trees, against the sunset-dappled grass, and with a dirt dauber nest cradled in its ear, the tiny kneeling statue stays faithfully with little Mattie—as it has for 104 years.

“Mattie Will Gamble (1907-1909): ‘Gone to Be an Angel'”
Heard County, Georgia – 3 June 2014

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Hillside Monday: 9/15/14


Most of the dishware fragments I find around Hillside are plain: solid white or off-white, the glaze cracked by water and soil and pressure and years. Now and again, I stumble upon a shattered bowl or cup featuring a stripe or two along the rim. That’s about all most people in Hillside could afford for dishes back then—just the everyday, unadorned stuff sold one piece at a time at Woolworth’s or Kress, or that arrived in boxes of powdered laundry detergent.

When something this pretty shows up, I think of how much it probably meant to someone. I think of how a heart must have broken along with that special platter.

Blue-Ware Bird: Dish Fragment, Forrest Avenue
LaGrange, Georgia – June 2012

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Giant Lilypads with Gravel

2014-08-06 19.13.56

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 6 August 2014

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In which I read my work to complete strangers

Here I am, reading a few short pieces at the 2nd Creative Nonfiction (CNF) Open Mic Night at Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia, on 12 Sep 2014. Many thanks to owner Josh Niesse for hosting us once again!

And, just for grins, here’s a photo of me mid-read:

2014-09-12 20.15.05

The pieces are all previously published on this site, and are as follows:

Hope you’ll join us at the next reading in January 2015. For details, Like Underground Books on Facebook, or Follow me on Twitter (@WilliamsWrite) or Facebook (RS Williams).

Track and Sky

2014-08-09 12.15.56

Leadville, Colorado
9 August 2014

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The Door at St. Mark’s

2014-07-18 17.24.12-1

LaGrange, Georgia – 18 July 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 9/10/14

2014-05-15 09.39.16

Permanently Parked
Heard County, Georgia – 10 May 2014


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46 Miles

Sometimes, I walk out of the classroom and think, “I didn’t do a bit of good today.” The familiar, sinking feeling snuggles close. Maybe, just maybe, it really is impossible to teach people how to write well. Maybe writing well really is like breathing—you either do it, or you’re dead.

I cry the entire forty-six miles home.

Later, though, I recognize the sinking feeling as a good omen. If I had all the answers, I’d also probably be full of shit. There is no way to have all the answers. There is only trying and failing, trying and failing, again and again, until something sticks.

And so I try again, try explaining it a different way, with the next class.
And the next.
And the next.


© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Mirror Oak

2014-08-31 12.23.33

LaGrange, Georgia
31 August 2014

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Hillside Monday: 9/8/14


Fish Fry Security Team: Clark Street
LaGrange, Georgia – June 2013



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Call for Carpet Tile

2014-08-19 15.55.53

LaGrange, Georgia
19 August 2014

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History and Tragedy


This stunning masterpiece of early 19th century architecture boasted 16-inch foundation beams hewn from trees that, if the ring counts served me correctly, were 350 to 400 years old in the early 1830s. The rafters in both the original structure and the circa 1890s addition were three- to five-inch saplings, stripped of branches and bark and barely flattened on the decking side. I could still see the centuries-old axe marks.

Just thinking about it makes me furious.

Fannin-Truitt-Handley House (built 1831-1833; demolished September 2012)
LaGrange, Georgia – 27 May 2012

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Prayers in the Wind

2014-08-31 12.29.12 HDR

LaGrange, Georgia
31 August 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 9/3/14


Blackberry Chair
LaGrange, Georgia – May 2014

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Succulent succulents

2014-08-06 19.39.02

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 6 August 2014


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Hillside Monday: 9/1/14

2014-07-05 15.36.18

Silk Tree and Sky, Lincoln Street
LaGrange, Georgia – 5 July 2014


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Storm to the south

2014-07-22 16.52.57

Southbound, State Highway 219
Troup County, Georgia – 22 July 2014


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Great music. Great people.

2014-08-29 23.51.22

Summer 1988:
You’re in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, visiting your father’s job site, when you first hear that voice on the radio. Smooth and soulful, yet with an edge that speaks of heartbreak, longing, and loss, the voice is like nothing else on the airwaves then, and like nothing you’ve heard in your short, musically limited 14 years.  “Talk It Over” has already been out for a while, as has his first hit album, and he’s crossed the country at least twice on various tours. “I’ll make it to his show one day,” you tell yourself.

But it’s hard to attend concerts when you’re in junior high school and it’s the 1980s and you don’t have a lot of spending money or even a driver’s license and your dad is wary of big-city music by people he’s never heard of and of whose berets he would undoubtedly disapprove. So you wait, and wait, and wear out your cassette copy of Blind to Reason in the tape deck of your little red Sony boom box. And the years pass. And pass. And pass.

But then, more than a quarter-century later, things line up just exactly how they need to line up, and you have your chance. You drive 406 miles on a holiday weekend because you know the music is going to be worth every slow-down on I-85, every state trooper lying in wait, every steel-belted radial gator flung from the 18-wheelers in front of you. Because of the heavy holiday traffic, you change clothes at a rest stop outside Charlotte, and slap on some makeup in the ladies’ room of the Greensboro club when you arrive with just half an hour to spare before the show.

And for nearly two solid, house-rocking hours, you perch on your bar stool, absolutely happy and completely content because of the stellar musicianship before you. You sit there, thankful that you were finally able to make the drive, thankful that you are here listening to this same voice—unchanged in 25-plus years—now joined in gorgeous harmony by another heavenly voice, the one he says makes his life complete. And after the show, you walk over to the stage to say hello, and the people to whom these amazing voices belong suddenly recognize you from Facebook, and say, “Holy crap! You’re here!”

And you go back to your hotel room after the show, happy and tired. And you tell everyone you know that not only are Grayson Hugh and Polly Messer outstanding musicians—but they’re also super-nice, down-to-earth people.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)
Photo by Lola Elliott Hugh

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