Tag Archives: Jo-Anne Teal

The Writing Life in 5 minutes

photo by gayle mavor

Hi kids,

Thank you to the three writers (plus me) who participated in Write for 5 this week. I must admit, I read all your pieces more than once (What a burden. They’re so long!) in order to decide who I wanted to give a book of mine to with a note. Who doesn’t love to get something other than a bill in their mailbox?

I liked the tone that was captured by Sue Goldswain in her short piece. I loved the idea of two little girls dressing up their grandmother when they visited her at what we have to guess might be an assisted living home, “plopping the shocking pink and yellow sombrero the size of a small planet,” on her head giving her some playful fun in a life that is dictated by others’ routines. And then the woman examining the photo more closely and having it remind her of her mother when she was “fed up to the back teeth,” afterwards.

I was captivated by the story written by Jo-Anne Teal because right after it began I wanted to know why this girl was stuffing clothes into her knapsack in a way that there would be no evidence on the outside. Then, as she got past her yard she began to run.  I was immediately transported with her along that run. Where’s she’s going?  Why didn’t she stop when her jeans got soaked? Why is she in such a hurry to get to school when she “still hates chemistry”?

I loved the idea of her doing something completely unexpected. Ripping off her jeans and tossing them on the bench because she was wearing tights, and then having the older woman join in her defiance, sick of struggling with her broken umbrella, letting it go to the bench as well. Then the ending still keeps us hanging on, wondering about the mystery of which journey this young lady was going on. She wasn’t going to school after all. Was she running away? Was she just skipping class? Was she going to the mall? Was she meeting someone? Where was she going? I want to know.

The story stayed with me as I was falling off to sleep. I was thinking how great it was that that story was told in a way that would never have arisen in my own imagination and how great it is that our minds, so unique,shaped by our experiences have that wonderful possibility of going in such vastly different directions in response to a single image.

I know Jo-Anne submitted her story after 9 p.m. but it was my favourite. So, I’m not going to be a hard ass. I have to go with my favourite. This week she’s my choice.

I’ve decided I must name the book I’m giving away, even though it will ruin the surprise for the receiver because I want to be sure people know I’m really sending people books. I stood in front of my bookshelf for a while and then chose, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. The back cover describes it as a kind of spiritual Strunk & White, a small and brilliant guidebook to the landscape of a writer’s task… Last week’s book giveaway was Breathing the Page by Betsy Warland.

Happy Monday for anyone following along.  Next Write for 5 starts, as always, Saturday morning, March 18th  at 8 am.  Please join in.

Write for 5 links past to present

gayle mavor photo taken in Thailand, 2013

I recall her from elementary school and my childhood birthday parties. Pin the tail on the donkey. Pennies in the cake. Musical chairs affairs. She has beautiful eyes. Brown sparkly ones. And a bubbly personality.  At our parties, there’d be my twin brother at one end of the table. Me at the other. King and queen. Two cakes. Our mum really did make our birthdays special when we were young.

I have this photo in an album to prove that it happened once as if I’m looking at other people, as if it’s got nothing to do with me. I wonder if other people feel that way when they look at photos of themselves from so many years ago.

I hope she doesn’t freak when she sees this photo. She’s the one in the blue dress. Dark hair. Right-hand side. A silly red birthday hat on her head.

Thanks to Facebook, she’s now words on my computer screen that pop up every day. I guess in a way she’s more in my life now than she was then. Thank you Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

I was really pleased that she participated in the first Write for 5 writing exercise where we write to an image for a timed five minutes. You can look at what image she chose, and introduce yourself to Mrs. Handicott in her submission in the comments off that blog post..

From what I’ve gleaned on social media, Jo-Anne is a more devoted coffee lover than most on the West Coast. I’d actually think she might make a pretty good guest on Comedians in Cars getting Coffee. I mean, there are regular people who could be as funny as most comedians off stage based on what I’ve seen on that show.

She’s also an avid reader, of course, and during the day while she dons her grownup attire and works as an HR Advisor for the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, you’ve got to know that when she’s in a meeting and she gets that faraway look in her eyes, it’s because she’s actually plotting her next flash fiction or poem.

Visit her blog, Going for Coffee and introduce yourself, preferably coffee in hand. Thanks so much Jo-Anne for taking part.

Only three more days until Saturday when the next Write for 5 begins at 8:00 am PST. I’m searching for just the right image and tomorrow, here, I’m going to muse about the magic of how it’s even possible to go from image to words on a page and how that spark happens for me. I’d be curious to know how it happens for you. Get mindful and pay attention to that process if you’re curious.

At a book launch yesterday in Vancouver, I ran into a friend and her husband. She was in the only writing group I’ve ever been in back in the mid-1990s. The past as present. It’s all around.