All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lawrence Wharton

Advisory Committee Members

Robert Collins

Michele Forman

Linda Frost

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


The five short stories in this collection focus thematically on the experiences of a fictional character named Elizabeth Fuller. Each story presents an episode in Fuller’s life in which she develops as an autonomous individual, making independent choices, recognizing her relationships to the surrounding world and other people. At the beginning of the writing process I proposed creating a collection in which transcendentalism served as the philosophical undercurrent in Fuller’s progression through various life stages, working in the literary and philosophical traditions of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Jewett, Alcott, Stoddard, and Dillard. Initially I tried too hard to create ‘transcendentalist’ writing, inundating the fiction with overt philosophical references, smacking the reader over the head with eloquent life lessons. My process changed in that I now focus more on settings and character development than on the heavy-handedness of a narrator conveying ‘meaning’. The title, Picking Up Rocks, echoes an ancient Israelite tradition in which tribes stacked large stones beside the Jordan River as memory markers for those who would later pass. These stories are memories, yet not all told from the singular perspective of an adult character looking back on life. The episodes are living markers of a maturing woman as she experiences life. While each narrative presents Fuller at a different age and in a different setting, they are not all constructed from her point-of-view. In “Sweet Lou’s and the King,” another character’s perspective gives the reader an alternate lens iv through which to view Fuller and her interaction with others. Fuller’s experiences provide her with new levels of self-awareness through exploration of her relationships with other people and, more subtly, the natural world. Each writing phase served as a stepping stone to understanding the craft of fiction writing. I learned to experiment with new styles like first person narration and journal format. While all the drafts did not make the final cut for this thesis, they all ring with a clear and instructional resonance for me, continual reminders of the writing lessons I learned along this journey.



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