Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The End of the . . . Year

The end of the year is a good time for endings.

Please do not be stopped by my profundity. I mean it. And so, the end of this year brings about an ending for me. I am changing jobs. I will still be working for the same company, at the same hospital, but I will be doing something entirely different. It is so different that I don't even know exactly what it is yet.

My new job is the Risk Review Coordinator. Yeah, I don't know much about it, but it involves abstracting data. This may sound very boring, but I don't think it will be boring. The non-boring thing about it is that I will not have to work any more NIGHTS, WEEKENDS, or HOLIDAYS. It is - tah dah - a Monday through Friday 9-5 kind of job. I have never, ever had one of those. Seriously.

I will also never talk about said job in the blog. Just that I will be doing it. It kinda involves stuff I can't talk about on a blog. Whatever it is.

The end of this year also brings about an end of a personal streak (of sorts). I have a cold. I have not had a cold for two years, and I have subsequently forgotten what a wussy I am when my face hurts. I think that is about all. Anyone interested in more cold details must have had too much cold medicine themselves. 

At the beginning of the year, I will post my resolutions if for no other reason than having something to NOT accomplish next year. I think it will have something to do with string theory and alternate universes (thanks, Dad). 

I know it is only December 29, but I figure it is close enough to the end of the year to count. Besides, this is one of the last times and last places where I can say "close enough." Data people are supposed to be exact, calculating, precise. I think that's also why it is a good thing that I'm a Pisces. Two fish - one is the data fish and one is the creative fish. 

Let's hope there are no data sharks (or Query Sharks) in the New Year, or it will be the end.

Jo Taylor

P.S. Query Shark is an inside writer's joke.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peas On Earth

When I was young, I heard words differently. I could spell anything, if I knew what the word really was. Yes, I was that kid who got all the song lyrics messed up, and thought the Pledge of Allegiance was to the Republic for Witches Stands. 

So, you can imagine the  thrilling discoveries that awaited when I learned to read, and realized that it was "Happy Birthday," and not Hippo Birdie. Or that I was supposed to be saying "Hail Mary, full of grace," and not Hail Mary, full of grapes.

The range of misunderstanding was far and wide. Christmas had lots of words that were misunderstood, mostly because of the singing involved, but I'm pretty sure some of those people didn't know the words either. 

Angels we have herded nigh
Harp, the Herald Angel sings (I thought Harp was the name of one of the Angels)
Deck the Halls with bells of folly

Eh, you get the idea.

Merry Christmas to all
and let there be Peas on Earth. 

(I swear I still see, in my imagination, snow with little peas all over the top - I looked everywhere I lived and never saw Peas on Earth. It must be a very rare and wonderful thing).

Jo Taylor

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've been writing a lot of poetry lately and I haven't the foggiest idea why. My best guess is that November saw me writing (just a little) over 50,000 words. So, now I want to be able to work, but finish something shorter.

When I was a nurse (I'm still a nurse technically, but I supervise - so in effect I just watch others nurse), the type of nursing I was attracted to was the kind where I could complete tasks and then go on to something else. At first, kicking and screaming, I was made to work in an intensive care unit for a year. It was too intense. And I never got done with anything. I did a task over and over and over. Ahhhhh! It is kind of like the rationalization of making the bed in the morning. I'm just going to mess it up again tonight - why bother?

Then, when "they" deemed my skills acceptable, "they" let me work in the ER. Yes. This suited me. It still does, except for the fact that I'm kind of done with the ER. But, what I mean by this is that I like, and my personality excels at, task oriented / completion oriented work.

I am finding this to remain true now with my writing. I think poetry, in its structured forms, requires thought and work to get it right. It isn't my favorite thing to read, but in thinking about fitting words and what I want to say into a certain structure, it works for me in sorting out the bigger story. I don't think I am particularly good at it either, but my reason for doing it isn't poetry as an end result. I wonder how many other writers use a different form to hone their skills in their preferred form?

If you have read all the way to the bottom and are the least bit curious about what I've written recently, I submit this sample. This is blank verse which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. It is the hardest form I've tried to write, but I'm pretty happy with this. I did it to help flesh out how I want to approach this story in its longer form. This is the little book I talked about finding a few posts ago. I'm fascinated by this old book of someones tiny details of life. I know there is a story in there somewhere.

Time Book

The record lay among archaic notes,
a 'Time Book' from your days of railroad work. 
Your name, address, and occupation there
in faded, penciled script upon the page.

The writing started January one.
The year you wrote was nineteen twenty-nine.
A movie cost you fifty cents back then,
and 'sweets' a nickel, taken from you hoard.

A cook for Southern, paid in twenty bills,
the engine logged was G-R-O one-two.
Twelve, fourteen, twenty, ten: the hours hard.
The column added up to fifty-six,
just thirty-five one-hundredths by the hour.

A Memorandum page tells why you must
have felt the need to write minutia down.
"I married her in nineteen twenty-three"
was followed by a separation date
mere days before you first put words on here.
It breaks my heart, your lonely, wistful hand.


Jo Taylor

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Okay, sometimes I crack myself up.

We writers have heard it said (even if we don't follow the advice) that sitting at the writing place and being present for the words to come is part of the work. So, sometimes I sit in front of the computer for an hour or two to test this theory. It kind of works for me, but a deadline is the thing that makes me produce.

Yesterday, I needed to do some Christmas shopping. A task, and if you look at it a certain way, work. The only problem was - it was raining. Hard. It does not rain here and it was raining rats and frogs (or is that cats and dogs?). Anyway. So, I drove to the place where the shopping was to occur. I turned the car off and waited for the rain to let up a little. It didn't.

Rain does not usually make people melt, but I have lots to do lately, so I decided not to take any chances. I waited in the car for 5 minutes. It then came to me in a flash that I was present and available for the shopping, so that counted as doing the work! A writerly rationalization if ever there was one. I started laughing while I sat in the parking lot. What a bunch of hooey. It didn't change my mind about actually going into the store through the pouring rain, but at least I recognized my silliness as it was occurring.  

Funny how no shopping was ever accomplished, just considered and prepared for. Yeah, it doesn't work for shopping and I'm getting the feeling that it doesn't really count in writing either. Prove one idea wrong and the rest fall like dominos. 

So this little real life experience showed me that the real work of writing is only accomplished when you WRITE. Sitting at the computer for 2 hours DOES NOT COUNT. Writing counts. I thought about this in terms of telling my son, "Well, I went near the store, and I intended to buy you a Christmas gift . . . "

I'll be going to the store tomorrow. It will be 22 degrees (which is really, really cold for here), but I will actually go inside and purchase something. Perhaps I shall write something too.


Jo Taylor

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Long Time

It's been a long time between posts and I have no good excuse. It just is, or has been (?) a long time.

Right there. In that very first two-sentence paragraph you can probably tell WHY I haven't posted for a bit. My brain is mushy. It kind of hurts a little too. I'm still deciding if writing basically non-stop for 30 days was a good idea or if I have permanently pulled the brain muscle.

In the month of November I also received two very nice form rejections which I added to my neat little (okay, getting big) stack . . . of rejections. If this was dating, I'd decide to be a nun. Ah yes, character building. How fun.

I'm ready to be excited about something again and it is all in the way you choose to look at things. Christmas shopping, that could be exciting. Curling up on the couch with a blankie, the fire going, and reading a good book -- that's definitely exciting. Having a few days this month to spend with my family -- thrilling I tell you!

In the writing arena, a few ideas are floating around looking for a format. I found this small log book in an antique store, and it was a Railroad Time Book. The man who owned it wrote very neatly his name, address, work place, and the prices he paid for things like milk, movies, and insurance. In 1929! I love this stuff. The Internet, being the amazing, people-finding thing it is (Facebook, anyone?) will be the start of some kind of interesting story. And if not, I'll make something up.

I just don't know if it will be a short story, or a novel. Who knows what I might find. That is the kind of exciting I like -- the start of a new story and the possibility that it will be fabulous. I think that is the most fun part of anything -- anticipation. When you are anticipating something, it can be perfect in your mind.

I'm trying to not end every paragraph with a sarcastic remark, and for those of you who enjoy them, they'll be back. I will find something honestly exciting to write about next time too. I think I'm just sick of myself lately. So, it may be a long time before I post again. Or it may not. Being quiet has never been my strongest quality.


Jo Taylor