It was 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, that Carol Evans Conley joined a creative writing workshop for seniors in Oakland, California. She wanted to share with the world how she felt about what she saw happening and the pain she felt. The act of writing allowed her to make unexpected connections among ideas and language, as well as look inside herself to discover more about who she is.
The essay she wrote about the tragedy, Katrina: The Ghosts of 1865, was awarded a $200 prize. And since then, Carol hasn’t stopped writing.
Carol discovered OASIS shortly after returning to Indianapolis in 2007 from Oakland where she had lived for 36 years. A friend had taken her to OASIS and she enrolled and took classes, helped with the OASIS catalogue, and volunteered in the computer lab. She had retired from a private college, then was a fundraiser for many years and ran a small publishing business out of her home.
“When I first joined OASIS, I attended a workshop on writing and publishing. And I was inspired to continue my writing and to give self-publishing some serious thought,” Carol said. “The next workshop I attended was one about journaling. Journaling is important to most writers because at any moment you have the ability to remember.” She said the workshop she took at OASIS just reinforced that. “I am never without a pen and notepad.”
Carol says that taking OASIS classes keeps her excited about life. “I continue to use my lifetime of potential,” she says.
That potential has kept Carol writing, under the name Carol L. Evans. She describes herself as a creative non-fictional writer. Her first published book, All My Springs: Journey of a Lifetime, is a collection of 28 short stories, personal essays, and poems. She’s even mentioned OASIS in one of her stories. “It’s about my visit to where I spent my childhood summers ... Culver, IN on Lake Maxinkuckee,” Carol said. “Shortly after I had joined OASIS, they sponsored a one-day trip to Culver, which allowed me to return to a place that I loved so much as a child, and which was an important part of my development.”
Currently, Carol encourages residents at her senior community of Nora Commons on the Monon to start thinking about passing memories down to their descendents through writing. She continues to write, contributing to senior anthologies and the book Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady, which is in libraries and was used at some colleges in women's studies. She has a new book in the works, His Son and My Child.
And Carol still participates in OASIS classes such as Intellectual Pursuits, Arts Entertainment, and Living Exploring. “OASIS allows me to to keep seeing the world beyond and above my life as it is now,” she says.