Rejuvenating My Writing

A couple of months ago at a Range Writers meeting, we were given a handout entitled “20 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Writing This Spring.” This was written by Christina Baker Kline, the author of Orphan Train and other books. You can read the article at http://christinabakerkline.com/2011/05/20-ways-to-rejuvenate-your-writing-life-this-spring/ . Here are four ways I rejuvenate my writing year round.

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  1. Don’t let your inner critic intervene until you’ve finished the piece. Having been raised by English teachers who are now in the hereafter, I feel their spirits guiding me when I write. I even have to stop myself from reaching for the backspace keey when I realize I’ve made a typographical error. Even those can wait unitl the editing process.

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  1. If at all possible, write during the week and reserve laundry and other domestic chores for the weekend. At times, this isn’t possible so I try to handle such chores before I write so I’m not distracted.

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  1. Don’t be afraid to share your work with others. I’m talking about groups that involve writing for about fifteen or twenty minutes and then reading aloud what you’ve written. Sharing isn’t a problem for me. In my writing groups, others think it’s funny that I always offer to go first when it’s time to share. When I keep silent in order to allow someone else to go first, another person says, “Well, Abbie, aren’t you going to go first?”

“Well, if nobody else will,” I say. Writing groups provide an open and friendly environment in which you can share so I’m not afraid.

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  1. Be open to and provide constructive criticism. The objective of most writers’ groups is to help participants improve their work so it can be published. I listen carefully when changes are suggested. I realize that my poem, story, or essay is my baby, and I’m under no obligation to change it.

A writer in one of my groups told another writer her work was  boring. I thought this comment was way out of line and wish I’d told the first writer so. Instead, I remained silent except for a couple of times when I said, “uh huh” in agreement with what the first writer was saying about the second writer’s piece. As a result, the second writer thought the first writer and I were ganging up on her. I should have disagreed with the first writer during our meeting and then e-mailed her privately, explaining why she shouldn’t have said that and suggesting she apologize. Oh well, live and learn.

If I think a piece is boring, I suggest ways the writer can make it interesting. I also try to find one positive thing about the piece, even if it’s boring. I’ve learned that honesty is important, and if a writer is offended by a sugestion I make, it’s her problem, not mine.

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If you’re an author, how are you rejuvenating your writing?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

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A Report Card for the Graduate

abbiejohnsontaylor:

Yesterday, I posted a poem inspired by an event that took place at our local community college graduation. Now, if you or someone you know or love is graduating this year, here’s an ideal commencement address.

Originally posted on alice13wordwalk:

NOTE: Each year around this time, we read or hear on both the local and national news names of famous people who will deliver commencement addresses in our area and throughout the United States. Then, eventually, I find myself enjoying a news segment featuring highlights of memorable graduation speeches of this season of turning tassels. Although I never gave a speech to graduates–on the final class meeting of each of the courses which I taught, I, from my classroom podium, did share with my students a brief farewell address with notes of “good luck” and “best wishes.”

The following essay is too long for a Hallmark card, too short for a chapbook–but the speech below is my commencement address, never delivered. Fortunately, now, through my Wordwalk blog, I can share my thoughts about graduation from my Wordwalk podium.

After the Tassel Is Turned–A Report Card for the Graduate

by Alice…

View original 1,016 more words

Sheridan College Graduation, 1980 (Poetry)

Amid the thump of running footsteps,

five figures clad only in sacks

dart across the platform between the podium

where the president stands in his finery

and chairs where regally clad trustees sit.

Someone must have alerted the campus police

because the streakers are apprehended

before they reach the exit.

It’s said that students plotted this

to pay tribute to a retiring faculty member.

They may have trouble finding work later

unless they seek employment as strippers.

***

This poem appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. Click on the Dropbox link below to hear me read it.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/sheridan%20college%20graduation%201980.mp3

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

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My Liebster Award

Thanks to Perfectly Imperfect for nominating me for the Liebster Award. This is one of those chain reaction things where I must answer ten questions and then think of ten more questions for bloggers I nominate and then nominate ten blogs with less than 200 followers.

Here are my answers to ten questions posed by Perfectly Imperfect. You can visit this blog at https://perfectlyimperfect05.wordpress.com/ .

 

 

  1. How would someone describe your blogging style? I don’t know. No one has ever described my blogging style. I would call it “anything goes” since I blog about whatever I want.

 

  1. What do you do when you’re not working on your blog? I do a lot of things. I’m a writer so that’s my first priority. Right now, I’m working on a memoir about how I met and married my late husband Bill and then took care of him for six years after he suffered two strokes. When I’m not writing, eating, or sleeping, I work out at the YMCA, take walks, attend writers’ group meetings and other fun activities, and sing in a women’s group called Just Harmony.

 

  1. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? I don’t want to live anywhere else but where I am right now, Sheridan, Wyoming. My family moved here in 1973. In the 1980’s, I went away to school but came back and have lived here ever since. It’s my home, and I wouldn’t dream of leaving, even though the winters can be harsh.

 

  1. What is your favorite thing about your career? I don’t have a favorite thing about my career. Although some aspects of writing can be tedious, I like it all: crafting the story, poem, or memoir, editing, revising, promoting, and I love doing it with the computer. How did writers do it in the good old days? It must have been maddening, typing all those drafts.

 

  1. What is your proudest accomplishment? I published three books: a novel and two poetry collections. It was not only my proudest moment but my late husband Bill’s as well when my first book came out. He said, “My wife, the published author.” If I had better vision, I would have appreciated the shit-eating grin on his face.

 

  1. What makes you laugh the most? A lot of things make me laugh: jokes, funny noises, things people say. I can’t define one thing that makes me laugh the most.

 

  1. What motivates you to work hard? Well, now that Bill is gone, I suppose I’m motivated by how proud he would be if I were to publish another book, even if he’s in it.

 

  1. What is the best gift you’ve been given? I guess the best gift I received was from Bill, a new Dell desktop PC in 2005 soon after we were married. He always supported my writing endeavors and wanted me to have the best technology available. Since he once owned a computer store, he knew exactly what to get me.

 

  1. Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go without for a day? I can’t think of anything I couldn’t go without for a day. I need it all. Heaven help me if I’m marooned on a deserted island.

 

  1. If you could share a meal with four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? That’s a no-brainer: my husband, my father, my mother, and my brother. The only one living is my brother.

 

Now, here are ten questions for the bloggers I nominate.

 

 

  1. If you were to win a million dollars, what would you do?

 

  1. If you could be any animal, what would it be?

 

  1. What is your favorite food?

 

  1. What kind of music do you like?

 

  1. What do you like to blog about most?

 

  1. What is your greatest ambition in life?

 

  1. What is your favorite pastime?

 

  1. Have you ever wanted to fly like a bird?

 

  1. If you could meet a character from a novel or television show, who would that be?

 

  1. What kinds of books do you like to read?

 

I nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award. These aren’t in any particular order.

 

 

Writing Life Stories http://www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com/

 

Washington State Poet Laureate http://wapoetlaureate.org/

 

Notes from a Western Life https://windbreakhouse.wordpress.com/

 

Trippleclicka http://tripleclicka.wordpress.com/

 

Albertruel http://albertruel.wordpress.com/

 

Alice13wordwalk http://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com/

 

Younger Than That Now http://allysonmwhipple.com/

 

Alice Osborn http://aliceosborn.com/

 

MS Caregiver Sharing http://mscaregiverdonna.wordpress.com/

 

The Creative Words of James Harrington http://jamesharringtoncreativeworks.wordpress.com/

 

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

 

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What I Read in April

Here’s my monthly book review. Because of all the National Poetry Month activities, I only had time to read two books last month. I’m thankful April is over with for this reason. Maybe this month, I’ll have more time for reading.

 

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber Copyright 2015

 

After downloading this book in a recorded format from Audible and hearing this author’s voice reading her letter to readers at the beginning of the book, I finally learned the correct pronunciation of her last name. (MAY-comb-ber) Not only have I read many of her books but I receive her monthly newsletter via e-mail and am kept up to date on what she’s doing with her family as well as with her writing. She’s a grandmother, but after hearing her voice, I find that hard to believe. She sounds so young.

The Last One Home is a touching story of love, betrayal, and family ties being severed and re-connected. At eighteen years of age and pregnant, Cassie runs away from her family’s home in Spokane, Washington, to Florida with the man she thinks she loves who is the father of her child. Twelve years later after escaping her abusive husband with her daughter, she has moved to Seattle where she works as a hair stylist and is accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program where she will help in the building of her own house. She also volunteers at a shelter, helping other abused women fleeing from their relationships. Her family home has been sold. Her parents are dead, and her older and younger sisters live in Spokane and Portland, Oregon, respectively.

Her first attempts to re-connect with her sisters are met with apathy. The sisters are still bitter toward her for leaving years earlier and breaking their father’s heart. However, after Karen in Spokane offers Cassie some furniture from her family home, the relationship between the three of them gradually re-develops. Cassie also finds herself falling for the man supervising the construction of her home. This is scary to her since she had similar feelings toward her abusive husband when they first met. She’s not sure she’s ready to trust another man.

As in many of Debbie Macomber’s books, the point of view in Last One Home shifts from that of one character to another. We gain a glimpse into the lives of Cassie’s sisters: Karen in Spokane and Nicole in Portland, Oregon, and sub-plots develop. They’re both married with children, and their lives seem ideal until Karen accidentally finds out that her husband was laid off from his job months after the fact and Nicole discovers her husband has been cheating on her. In the end, all three sisters come together to support each other in their trials and tribulations, and things are looking up.

The only character not given a point of view is Duke, Cassie’s abusive husband. He is eventually imprisoned for manslaughter, and I would have liked to know what he was thinking, but who knows what goes on in the heads of men like that? Do they ever see the error of their ways? This book made me mad, at Duke, at Cassie’s sisters for their closed-mindedness in the beginning, and even at Cassie for not admitting at first that she’d made a mistake when she ran away with Duke. I was glad in the end, though.

 

A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses by Susan Wittig Albert Copyright 2013

 

This is a fictionalized account of the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series, and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, spanning ten years between 1928 and 1938 while they were collaborating on most of the books in the series. Telling the story mostly from Rose Wilder Lane’s point of view, the author gives a brief account of Rose’s life growing up. The family was forced to move from their South Dakota home after Rose accidentally set the house on fire at the age of three by putting too much wood in the stove. They settled on a farm near Mansfield, Missouri.

Rose felt guilty for causing the fire and resented farm life. A free spirit, she finally left home at the age of eighteen and became a journalist, traveling all over the country and overseas, getting married and divorced, and giving birth to a son who died as an infant. She finally returned to the family farm in Missouri in 1928 when she felt obligated to help her aging parents. She built them a separate house on the property, wired both houses for plumbing and electricity, and took over the main farm house.

To tell the truth, Rose Wilder Lane was more her mother’s ghost writer. She never wanted credit for the books. Laura wrote the original manuscripts by hand, and Rose typed them, editing and rewriting as she went along. At first, Laura didn’t like her daughter’s revisions, but after Farmer Boy was rejected the way her mother wrote it, she grudgingly agreed to let Rose do the revisions.

Rose not only wrote magazine articles but also fiction, which her mother despised. This was one of many sources of tension between mother and daughter. Several of her short stories and a couple of novels were published during this ten-year period.

Susan Wittig Albert describes other stresses Rose faced during those years. Needless to say, the stock market crash in 1929 and the ensuing depression caused financial worries. Although Rose and her mother lived in separate houses, her mother constantly phoned or stopped by for tea, interrupting her writing. Her writer friends often visited or stayed with her for long periods of time, and her mother didn’t like any of them and was disturbed by gossip about them in the small town. Rose also took in two teen-aged orphaned boys and cared for them as if they were her sons. This all became too much for her, and in 1935, she moved to Columbia, Missouri, so she could be on her own. In 1938, she left Missouri for good and moved to New York where she started doing more political writing.

With her daughter’s help, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote eight of the books in the Little House series: Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plumb Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years. These books detail her life growing up in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. After These Happy Golden Years was published, Laura wrote another book on her own, The First Four Years, which details her early life with her husband Almanzo. Since Rose didn’t have a hand in this book, readers were disappointed because the prose wasn’t the same as in the other books.

According to the epilog, Laura Ingalls Wilder died in 1958 after being diagnosed with diabetes. Rose Wilder Lane lived for another eleven years. The book also provides a bibliography of material by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and others.

As a kid, I read all the books in the Little House series including The First Four Years. I must have been around twelve when I read that one, and I didn’t notice a difference in the prose, but kids don’t notice these things or care. It’s all about the story.

I also liked the television series, Little House on the Prairie, based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s story. Melissa Gilbert, the actress who portrayed Laura, wrote a memoir about her experiences called Prairie Tale. I plan to read this book next and will investigate other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

 

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Z is for Zorro by Abbie

abbiejohnsontaylor:

I’m re-blogging this from Writing Wranglers and Warriors, a blog I write for once a month. This is the last day of my National Poetry Month commemoration. I’ll return to my regular weekly blogging schedule next Tuesday with a review of books I read this month.

Originally posted on Writing Wranglers and Warriors:

Abbie J. Taylor 010This post by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Today, the last day of the Blog A-Z Challenge, is also Poem in Your Pocket Day so here’s a poem for your pocket. This was inspired by a song from a movie that was released in the late 1990’s, but I didn’t hear of the song or the movie until 2005 after my late husband Bill proposed to me. He was living in Fowler, Colorado, at the time, and I was here in Sheridan, Wyoming. We met through a magazine, and after a long-distance friendship during which we communicated regularly by e-mail and phone and met face to face twice, he sent me a letter, out of the blue, asking me to marry him. This was in January.

A month later, he sent me a Valentine care package that included, among other things, a cassette tape of love songs he downloaded from the Internet…

View original 197 more words

Little Houses

Today’s poem was inspired by the NaPoWriMo prompt at http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-nine/ . Click on the Dropbox link below the poem to hear me read it.

 

LITTLE HOUSES

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder, the little girl

who lived in the big woods, grew up,

got married, had a daughter,

Rose Wilder Lane, wrote about

her life with Rose’s help.

Her tales delighted me and other children.

 

Now, Susan Wittig Albert

writes about Rose and Laura’s lives during the Depression,

how Rose and Laura collaborated

on the Little House books,

still fascinating to me, but do today’s young people

want to know about life over a hundred years ago?

Do they care about a family on the prairie,

struggling to stay alive through harsh winters, drought?

This book should encourage mothers to read to their daughters,

as mine did, about the little girl in the big woods.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/little%20houses.mp3

 

Do you remember reading the little house books when you were a child? Did you have any favorite books in the series that you read more than once? Mine was Little Town on the Prairie, in which Laura, a teen-ager, starts working to support her family and launches her teaching career. I hope to finish Susana Wittig Albert’s book in time to blog about it next week so stay tuned.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

 

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