GOSHEN — Shirley Showalter was a presence at Goshen College from 1976 to 2004, first as faculty and later as president of the school.
Showalter now lives in Virginia, but she is returning to Goshen this week to introduce area residents to her recently published memoir, “Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.” Showalter will do three book events this week and next week in Goshen.
“My first indication that I wanted to write stories about my own life was when I was teaching at Goshen College,” Showalter said. “The personal essays that students wrote were the best writing produced in the class.”
She started writing personal essays of her own in 1993. Later, when Showalter lived in Kalamazoo, Mich., she entered some of the essays in a literary contest at a local newspaper.
“After that, I began thinking about a book,” Showalter said. “The memoirists’ greatest fear is, ‘Is my life interesting to anybody but me?’ and secondly, ‘How will people that I write about respond?’”
In the book, Showalter covers her family history, her childhood and how she wrestled between two lives: the church and the outside world. She said she wrote the book for herself, but she hopes that both Mennonite and non-Mennonite readers will enjoy it.
“(The book) has a lot of historical information, so that people who have an interest in the Mennonites and the Amish could read this book and know that it came from an actual life, and ... it’s not fiction,” Showalter said.
She continued, “Everyone has some place in their lives where they feel caught between one aspect of their life and another. I blushed when I was trying to be someone I was not. Those were experiences very particular to a Mennonite girl, but they are not at all unique (to people in general).”
Showalter will be at Better World Books in Goshen doing an informal book signing and meet-and-greet during Goshen First Fridays on Oct. 4. She will be at the bookstore from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
She will also do a reading from the book from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Goshen College’s Newcomer Center 17, as part of the college’s homecoming activities.
Her third event is an afternoon sabbatical at Goshen College’s Sauder Concert Hall from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. Showalter will talk about how she wrote her book and about the process of writing memoirs in general. The event is free and open to the public.
“I’m really excited about coming back home,” Showalter said. “Goshen has a very big place in my heart. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.”