Photo by: Scott Nathan

Established Professional
Literature: Creative Nonfiction

By: Gail Obenreder

Maribeth Fischer’s stellar artistic credentials include founding and running the revered Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, writing two published novels (along with a slew of essays and presentations), and teaching an almost endless series of highly regarded writing workshops.

But for her, the artistic practice continues to be a wrestling match – “a tussle, a brawl.” There is always an anguished question and “no single, right or easy answer.” Fischer’s current wrestling match is with writing about a new-to-her subject – happiness. She is exploring a way to give it what she considers the proper literary weight when, “unlike grief, the happy story does not contain the same elements of plot and conflict.”

“Happiness” (2017)

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys…”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

My husband and I talk about death. A lot. We aren’t old—he is fifty-six; I have just turned fifty-two. And for the most part we are in good health. We run a couple of miles a couple of times a week. We go to the gym. We eat a healthy diet—low carb, low fat, low sugar.
And yet.

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Fischer majored in English at Iowa State University (Ames) and received an MFA in fiction writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. She grew up and continues to live among people for whom art really matters. Her extended family includes a visual artist, a keyboard player, an architect, a number of writers (including herself) and a composer. So grappling with large questions and seeking intellectual riches has always been a part of her life. As a child, “when dad picked us up on Saturday mornings to go to his place for the weekend, the first thing we did was go to the library [and] check out eight to twelve books.”

An avid runner, the Lewes resident loves the trails that stretch along the state’s seacoast. But what still inspires her most is reading, and – not surprisingly – she’s a great lover of Delaware’s libraries. Voraciously consuming books gives her new ideas, and Fischer reads everything – history, poetry, essays, fiction – paying special attention to those that “fill me with envy, that make me long to write.”

As well as the excitement of a new idea and the thrill of research, Fischer loves to read her work aloud publicly, and the Division’s Artist Fellowship will allow opportunities for that. But even with many accolades and a solid body of work, this accomplished writer is especially excited because the Fellowship affords her “validation for this new direction I am taking my writing,” seeking in the literary tradition and her own work “a place for wise, informed, beautifully written and serious investigations of happiness.”