On Writing and Exercise

Thanks to The Writing Bug for inspiring this. In a recent blog post, author Susan Mark compares the craft of writing to the exercise of riding a bicycle. One thing I’ve learned is that writing, like exercise, is easier if it’s something you want to do. An exercise program won’t work if you can’t get motivated to do it on a regular basis. If you’re writing something you have to write, and it’s not something you want to write, it’s hard to get into that as well. 

I participate in water exercise classes at the YMCA three days a week. On the days I don’t go to the Y, I take walks. When the weather’s bad, I use my treadmill. That’s pretty boring because I see the same old scene outside my window while I’m walking, but if I have a good book to listen to, I can usually stay with it for forty-five  minutes if time allows. Because I enjoy these activities, I’m motivated to do them on a regular basis.

Since January, I’ve been working on a memoir about my six years of experience caring for my late husband, totally blind and partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes. I have to distance myself once in a while because of the book’s personal nature. Last week was one of those weeks so I decided to focus on poetry instead. Because I told myself I didn’t have to write the next chapter of my memoir today, I was only too glad to go to my computer and do something else.

I’d love to go bike riding if I could ride a tandem with someone else. Because of my visual impairment, it wouldn’t be a good idea to steer my own bike. However, I’m content with my current exercise program and writing regimen. Happy riding and writing!

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

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Featured on WyoPoets Website

 

WyoPoets is an organization promoting poetry and poets here in Wyoming. I, along with three other poets, am featured on the site in an attempt to attract new members. A new poet will be added each month. You’ll find a picture and a brief write-up about me and my work. To read this and leave a comment, click here.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Poetry

As President of WyoPoets, I often receive correspondence from other state poetry organizations affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. One such envelope caught my attention because it came from Jupiter, Florida, where my brother lives. It contained a chapbook entitled Poetry by Ogden  Nield and a letter from a woman in Jupiter representing him. According to the letter, Ogden Nield is 79 years old, lives in West Palm Beach, and gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He is also an artist, and his Boob Art series is available for viewing and purchase at http://creativememories-favorites.com/wordpress/boob-art-by-ogden-nield-2/. The response to  his Boob Art has been encouraging, and he has also designed signs for stores in the West Palm Beach area. 

Not much else is known about this author. According to his profile at http://www.mylife.com/ogdennield, he has lived in New Haven, Connecticut, and Pompano Beach, Florida. He was born in 1934 and graduated from BrearleySchool in New York in 1952.

Poetry, Ogden Nield’s first collection, contains 19 pages of work on a variety of topics including love, terrorism, and nature. Most of the poems are untitled. Some are abstract, others brutally honest with vivid imagery. This is definitely an interesting book of poems. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Beethoven and Me

When I was about eight or nine, my favorite Beethoven symphony was his sixth. According to Mother, it tells the story of a group of people who go on a picnic and are caught in a rainstorm. I started calling that particular symphony the storm. “Mom, can I hear the storm?” I would ask when I wanted her to play that particular record.

At the time, we were living in Tucson, Arizona, and like the people in the story, our family often took picnic lunches to the mountains during the summer months to cool off and were occasionally caught in such a storm. Dad once told me about a family caught during a storm in an arroyo. They drove into it accidentally, and their car went down, down, down, and they were never heard from again. For some reason, instead of giving me nightmares, this fascinated me.

One day while we were driving home from one of our trips to the mountains, it started to rain and then it poured. I fell asleep in the back seat to the clatter of raindrops pelting the roof in quick succession, as the car wound its way down the mountain. When I woke up, the car was stalled, and Dad was trying unsuccessfully to start it. “We’re in an arroyo, Abbie,” he said, a note of excitement in his voice.

Any minute, I expected us to descend into the abyss. Surprisingly, that didn’t scare me. Eventually though, Dad got the car going, and we made it home safe and sound.

I started thinking about my association with this composer after I began reading Beethoven’s Shadow by Jonathan Biss, a pianist who has played most if not all of Beethoven’s sonatas. However, after reading the book for not more than half an hour, I found it boring and decided not to finish it. Although I enjoy listening to classical music, I don’t know what I expected when this book was offered to me as a gift from Audible, but here’s the publisher’s summary from the Website.

“The American pianist Jonathan Biss is known to audiences throughout the world for his artistry, musical intelligence, and deeply felt interpretations. What has been less known until now is that Jonathan Biss writes about music in a most compelling and engaging way. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a Beethoven concert or a Beethoven recording, or one of the many films about Beethoven, this audiobook is an inspiring listening experience. For those of you who have heard Beethoven in concert or listened to a Beethoven recording, Jonathan Biss takes you behind the scenes of those performances. If your musical interests are much broader than Beethoven, or if your interests focus on the creative process, this will fully engage you.

‘On April 24th, 2007, Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 109 made me lose my mind.’ So Jonathan Biss opens this book. He goes on to describe the complex – and by no means all positive – impact of the technology of the recording process on the experience of performing and listening to music. He also describes the legacy of generations of teachers. You are there when Leon Fleisher teaches Jonathan Biss just as Artur Schnabel taught Leon Fleisher before him. You experience the growth of a talented young musician as he becomes a fully mature artist. Most compelling of all, Jonathan Biss creates an almost spiritual introduction to the making and experiencing of music. He has, in effect, invited the listener into the world of the composer and the performer.

Jonathan Biss includes an annotated audio guide to deepen the experience of anyone who enjoys listening to classical music. It is an unforgettable experience. Jonathan Biss has recently begun a nine year project of recording all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. ©2011 Jonathan Biss (P)2013 Audible, Inc.”

The only Beethoven piano composition I could play with marginal success was his Rondo in C Major. This was when I was in college. I first heard his moonlight sonata when I was in elementary school. While I was practicing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on my violin in one room at the Arizona State School for the Deaf & Blind, a girl in high school was practicing the sonata’s first movement in another. Captivated by the somber chords and melody, I often listened to her instead of practicing my own piece.

When I was a student at Sheridan College, our choir sang the last movement of Beethoven’s ninth with the Rapid City Symphony Orchestra along with other groups in Wyoming and South Dakota. It was the closest I’ll ever get to singing on stage with an orchestra. I’ll never forget the feeling of exhilaration, as I stood on the risers with the other singers and sang the German words to that familiar tune, accompanied by the orchestra. I’ll take that over being stuck in an arroyo any day.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Review Our Book, Please

 

In my last post, I talked about Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look, an anthology of poems, stories, and essays by disabled authors produced by an organization of which I’m the President. This book will soon be available on Bookshare, a service that provides books in accessible formats that can be downloaded by those prevented from reading print books. We would also like to have the book recorded by the National Library Service for the Blind so it can reach an even wider audience of people with visual impairments or other disabilities that keep them from reading print books. The more online reviews our book can receive, the better chance we’ll have of this becoming a reality.

Below are links to where the book can be ordered from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. These sites also have pages where reviews can be posted. If you read the book, please post a review online at one of these sites and pass this information on to family and friends. Thank you in advance for your support.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Our-Eyes-Second-Look/dp/1490304479/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372024554&sr=81&keywords=Behind+Our+Eyes%3A+A+Second+Look

 

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/behind-our-eyes-writers-with-disabilities/1115922640?ean=2940148255871

  

 Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver