My Most Precious Possession


During a memoir writing workshop at the Wyoming Writers conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, one of many story ideas we were given was this. If your house was on fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? This reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law years ago after they evacuated their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as a result of a forest fire that threatened the small town. Thankfully, their house remained in tact, but something my sister-in-law said made me want to strangle her.

She explained that since she and my brother didn’t know if their house would survive the fire, they’d crammed as many of their earthly possessions as they could into their mini-van including two small children and two cats. She’d insisted on taking their photo album, although there was little room. I wanted to tell her that more memories can be made and more pictures taken, but you can’t replace yourself or a loved one. Being a mother, she should have focused more on making sure she and her children were safe.

If my house were on fire, I suppose I might try to rescue my tablet and SD card containing some of my writing. Then again, call me vain, and maybe it’s my fear of fire and death that are talking, but my most precious possession is me. Photographs can be re-taken. Computers can be replaced. Writing can be rewritten. You can bake a cake again, even if you don’t have the recipe. Life, on the other hand, is the most precious possession of all.

What about you? If your house caught fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? I hope I’ve convinced you that this is a no-brainer, but if I haven’t, I’d be interested in reading about any treasured items you might try to rescue and the stories behind them. That’s the point of this exercise, anyway. You can share your stories on your own blog with a link here or in the comment field below. In any case, I hope to hear from you.

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Reblog–Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

It just so happens that one of my book discussion groups will be talking about one of David Baldacci’s books next month. Naturally, I was curious about why this author wrote. In this post, Kathy Waller provides quotes from this and other authors on why they write and presents one of the first things she wrote when she was a kid. Enjoy!

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Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Once in Love with Amy

As most of you know, I have a visual impairment. On my PC and tablet, I use software that reads everything to me and repeats what I type. With such software, there is a variety of text to speech voices you can either purchase or download for free. Some sound like robots, while others have a lot of human qualities.

I occasionally like to buy new voices. Recently, I sampled one with a British accent. She said, “Hello, I’m Amy. Shall we read something fun together?” I immediately purchased her, and we’ve been having fun reading and writing ever since.

This reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago and posted here. It appears in How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Julie was the voice I used when I wrote it. Here’s the poem, and you can click below to hear Amy read it. I think Amy’s a keeper, don’t you?

 

Dear Julie

 

I wonder what you think, as you read me my e-mail,

the Web pages I browse, other documents.

Is there something you’d rather not read to me,

something I don’t want read that interests you?

When you repeat what I type,

how do the words strike you?

When I shut down, are you relieved or disappointed?

When I boot up, do you sigh with resignation

or jump at the chance of helping me again?

Now, I’ll ask you to read this back to me.

Knowing it’s about you, will you blush?

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Glenda Bealle, An Inspiration

Since 2010, in her studio in Hayesville, North Carolina, Glenda C. Bealle has been teaching and inviting guest instructors to teach classes in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, family history writing, and publishing. Her work has been published in various magazines, anthologies, and newspapers, and she has appeared on The Writers Show in Chattanooga. She has published two books: a poetry collection, Now Might as Well be Then, in 2009, and a family history, Profiles and Pedigrees: Thomas Charles Council and His Descendants, in 1998. She has two blogs: Writer’s Circle and Writing Life Stories. She hosts Coffee with the Poets and Writers at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville monthly and is involved with the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West.

Glenda has worn a variety of hats: painter, schoolteacher, HAM radio operator, caregiver, newsletter editor, Christmas tree farmer, choir member, gardener and public relations and sales person. Having grown up on a farm with six brothers and sisters, she can drive a tractor, a stick shift, and a motorcycle. When she was younger, her favorite activity was horseback riding. Loving animals, especially dogs, she advocates for preventing the birth of unwanted pets by spaying and neutering.

She suffers from MCS, a respiratory disorder that causes her to be sensitive to synthetic chemical fragrances and scented laundry soap and dryer sheets. Most people in public places inadvertently wear such fragrances, but that doesn’t stop her from getting out and promoting her work, networking with other writers, and advocating for clean indoor air.

She loves teaching and helping other writers reach their goals. I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend any of her classes, since I’m in Wyoming, miles away from North Carolina, but her blog posts and other writing have inspired me, and I can imagine what a wonderful teacher she must be. If you live near Hayesville North Carolina, I recommend checking out her studio. If you’re like me, too far away, you can at least visit her blogs and learn more about her published books.

You may wonder why I’m plugging her all of a sudden. Well, she and I follow each other’s blogs, and this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find this post in my email in box. This is one of many articles she has written about me on her blog in which she considers me an inspiration. I’m not that religious, but I’ve always been a fan of The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Not remembering the last time I mentioned Glenda on my blog, I realize it’s now time for me to praise her as much as she has praised me.

In her post, she says I make her feel like a do-nothing person. Okay, she doesn’t travel to nursing homes and other facilities with a guitar when not writing, but she gives in other ways. She inspires other writers, not just those who take her classes. Many of my poems and stories don’t really fit literary markets, but Glenda is well-known in such circles, despite the fact that her MCS makes being out in public difficult. I find that truly amazing. I appreciate her saying how much I inspire her, but she also inspires me. One good inspiration deserves another.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Love in Ten Lines

Love is a rose.

You can’t pick love

because love won’t grow

if love is extracted.

Love turns to thorns

when you’ve missed love.

You lose your love

when possessive of love,

Love in your mind,

Love in your heart.

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This poem was partially inspired by “Love is a Rose” by Linda Ronstadt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed2r8cAyvEo

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“Love is worth everything we pay.” From The Mask of Zorro: “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo4AWDELNiY

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Thanks to Blair King for generating this prompt idea. You can read the full post at https://peoplethingsandlife.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/love-in-ten-lines/ .

Now, it’s your turn. See if you can write a poem about love in ten lines. The word “love” must be in every line, and each line can only have four words. If you have a blog, I challenge you to post your poem there along with a quotation about love as I have done. If not, you can share in the comment field below. Any way you do it, I’d love to hear from you about love.

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

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

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

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Vote for my new book idea.

My Writing Process

Two authors invited me to participate in a blog tour that involves answering four questions about how I write and tagging them and other authors in the process. First, let me tell you about the authors who invited me.

Traci McDonald lives in Utah and is the author of Killing Casanova, a western romance. Her blog is called Writing Blind. She says, “I have been a writer since I figured out how to make words on a page. I wrote for English classes like most people, but I wrote everything else I could think of in between. I won minor competitions with short stories, poetry, and lyrics before becoming visually impaired. That is just a politically correct way of saying I am blind. I lost my eyesight 17 years ago, but it never stopped me. I have struggled with my health and raising kids, prior to the publication of my first novel.”

Deon Lions is also blind. He lost his sight in 2010 and is the author of Sully Street, a young adult novel now available on Amazon. He is working on a prequel, Goodbye Savannah and has published a second book, Ready, Set, Poetry. He lives with his wife of 32 years in Central Maine. His writing has been published in newspapers and online magazines and has appeared in various publications associated with his writing groups. His work has also been published in local newspapers, and he has appeared on Internet radio shows. With help from family and friends, he hopes to continue moving forward with new aspirations. His blog is called Surviving.

Now, here are my answers to four questions about my writing process.

What am I working on? My chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press so I’m promoting that. It’s important that the publisher receive as many pre-orders as possible because that will determine how many books will be printed. If Finishing Line Press receives less than 55 pre-orders, they will only do a limited printing with no eBook.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? My poetry is straightforward with few abstract concepts. It’s easy to understand. My late husband was never a fan of poetry, but he liked mine.

Why do I write what I do? As the song goes, “I don’t know why. I just do.”

How does my writing process work? I do most of my writing on a computer with the help of screen reading software and a Braille display. I could edit, edit, edit until the cows come home, but I probably wouldn’t get anything published. Since my late husband was a baseball fan, I have adapted the three strikes and you’re out rule of editing. Before submitting something, I read it through three times, correcting mistakes and making changes as I go. If I feel I need to read it a fourth time, I will. Otherwise, I spell check it, and then it goes to a magazine or publisher, and what will be will be. Some people may turn their noses up at this, but every writer has his/her own way of doing things, and no technique is right for everyone. With two books under my belt, a third on the way, and stories and poems published in various journals and anthologies, I think I have a lot to show for my writing process.

I invited two other authors to participate in this blog tour, but only one responded, saying she was too busy.  However, I see no reason why I can’t share information about them and links to their blogs. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the exposure.

Alethea Williams is the author of Walls for the Wind, and Willow Vale. You can visit her blog, Actually Alethea, by clicking here. “Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I’ve lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I’m always open to reader response to my writing.”

Glenda C. Beall is a poet, teacher, and mentor in Hayesville, North Carolina. She has two blogs: Writing Life Stories and Writers Circle Around the Table. Her poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. She suffers from a chemical sensitivity disorder which a lot of people don’t understand, and this is sometimes reflected in her writing.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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