THE MUSIC OF WORDS
It was in early 2014, I believe, that I mentioned my creative writing mentor, Lois Beebe Hayna, in my blogs. She had just turned 101 years young and was actively writing and selecting poems to publish her next book of poetry titled Lagniappe (released in December 2014). The word lagniappe means a little bit extra. Lois tells us that she feels she’s been given extra time in this life to write poetry, and that’s exactly what she intends to continue doing. Today at 103, she ignores the physical challenges of losing her hearing and eyesight, and continues to create her unique music with words.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, and I can think of no better way to honor the great poets of history—past, present, and future—than by sharing Lois’ story of becoming a highly respected poet and mentor to anyone who knows her and reads her works. The following is how Lois speaks about her writing life “in brief” calling it “a cautionary tale.”
“If you want your life to include writing or painting or any of the vocations which don’t produce a paycheck, nobody’s going to make it easy for you. Nobody’s even going to take you seriously until after you’ve somehow done it. In my case, friends and neighbors had plenty of reasons to caution me. I grew up in a one-parent family in the tiny village of Vesper, up in the center of Wisconsin. It was the middle of the Depression—that big one—and I think we knew no one who was not worried about his future. Even the best of farmers were going bankrupt.
I went from our two-room school which did offer good teaching, to high school in neighboring Wisconsin Rapids, and then I taught a one-room rural school, fortunate to be hired. During that winter I learned I’d been awarded a partial scholarship which allowed me to enter the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Aside from great classes and wonderful teachers—among them S.I Hayakawa and Helen C. White, William Sumner, and R.E.N. Dodge, I met other writers and even published a few poems.
The Depression was still on. A degree helped no one find work, and certainly nobody was paying for poetry, then or now. We drifted into low-paying jobs or no-paying research, or, as in my case, got married; which introduced me to the southern states.
After three children and many moves, I found myself newly-divorced in Denver, Colorado, at a time when luckily for me, jobs had become available, never mind that for someone with no training or experience, the pay scale was dismal. But the children grew up. I remarried, and somehow, though I still read poetry avidly, I thought my chance for writing was past.
Only a remark from a college classmate sent me back to see if I still had anything to say, or any skill in saying it. I was in my early sixties. I was that close to never writing anything.”
SO POETS! Writers of one or multiple styles! Follow this example. NEVER QUIT! Hang in there and keep writing! And don’t hesitate to self-publish! Should you be as blessed as Lois Hayna and live into your 100s, you’ll deeply enjoy holding ALL your books in your hands! And, so will your fans! ⚓︎
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.