Doris Schneider spends her time “writing and doing visual arts – primarily painting, jewelry, and soft sculpture.” She continues, “So, although I am totally stimulated both creatively and intellectually, in a way I feel like I must be in my second childhood. After all, I get to draw and paint and make necklaces and tell stories to friends, and listen to them tell stories and read poems. How much better can it get?”
Work on construction sites for oil and chemical refineries caused Doris’s father to move his family frequently during her childhood: 9 towns in Texas, in 11 other states and 3 Canadian provinces. She was born in Rosenburg, Texas and attended 15 different schools in scattered locations before graduating from high school in New Orleans.
Doris continued her education with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Drama from William Carey University and a Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi, both in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She moved to North Carolina in 1971 and earned a Master of Product Design from the College of Design at NC State University.
Teaching became her love for 37 years. Doris purrs, “I taught speech and drama at my undergraduate school, William Carey, for 6 years; was a graphic designer for UNC Chapel Hill for 4 years; and taught theatre at North Carolina Central University for 27 years.” She continues, “In addition to teaching, I designed and painted scenery for the department productions. I also designed operettas and operas for professional companies in Durham.”
She beams as she talks about her husband. “My husband of 12 years is James Coke, retired after 40 years of teaching chemistry at UNC- Chapel Hill. His research and continued interest is in plant propagation – particularly native orchids of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His greatest love is competitive bicycling. In fact, we’re going to Florida this weekend for him to ride in a 24 hour race. He hopes to complete 300 miles – not bad for a man of 77.”
Doris has two daughters while Jim has two sons and a daughter. Their extended family includes five children, five spouses, and eleven grandchildren.
Doris shows her arts at the Inner Banks Artisan Center and Lane Gift Shop in Washington: The Twisted Laurel Gallery in Spruce Pine; the Down East Gallery in Oriental; and The Pea Island Gallery in Rodanthe.
Writing occupied much of her academic career: articles for academic journals were frequent and a textbook, “The Art and Craft of Stage Management” was published in 1997.
Doris began non-academic writing “when Jim and I were building a log house in the NC Mountains. We were living in a tent and doing the actual construction. To keep my sanity and our marriage,” she muses, “I got a laptop and began to let out my frustrations in story form. Before the cabin was finished, I had a novel.”
In the cold light of day, Doris found her novel “too personal,” and “give it an honorable burial.” Two characters live on in her second novel now in progress.
When Jim and Doris moved to Washington, she “joined a journaling group led by Rachel Mills, who taught at UNC Chapel Hill and then at Eastern Carolina. That was a wonderful therapeutic experience, but I found that I preferred combining fact with fiction. I wrote a fictionalized account of a true story from my family’s history and entered it in the New Bern Literary competition in 2009 and won first prize. I was hooked.”
“As if she read my need, Rachel began a second group for fiction writing. At the same time, I learned about the Pamlico Writers Group. I visited one evening and found another arena/sounding board for my writing. How much better can it get?”
Doris has read excerpts of her new novel at PWG meetings.