Sunday, November 27, 2016

Here on my desk, my Introduction couldn't be more tidy and professional looking.  No big, blank space at the beginning, as in the above, no un-centered title, no chopped-up first paragraph, no jumping around of paragraph indentations, no sudden appearance of capitalized letters LIKE THIS. What did I do to bring on this misbehavior at the moment of publication? My dear nerdy son is transporting a ship to Hawaii and busily writing a memoir, so I'm on my own.  I'll copy this and email it to him. Timmy, HELP!  Is there a key I can click on to return this machine to sanity?



      When I was a girl 200 years ago, I remember rushing into the sunroom after school to see what

 pages Mom had added to a story she was writing.  Called “Hildarella,” it was about Cinderella’s

daughter.  Mother would be sitting at her desk, typing away, and I would eagerly read the pages I

hadn’t seen yet, then stand behind her to see what new developments she was creating.         
       In my opinion, the only flaws in the story were the poems she inserted about various characters such as Bluffit, the butler.  I didn’t like having the plot interrupted, and being a pain-in-the-neck preteen, voiced my disapproval.  Many years later, after Ernestine died, I found a copy of a letter she had written to a friend, expressing her disappointment in my lack of appreciation for poetry.   The friend, who was a published poet and author herself, replied, “Barbara will come to poetry.”
     I did come to poetry and only wish my mother had lived 15 years longer, so she could have seen the tremendous popularity of Poetry with a Purpose [Good Apple, 1987], which eventually sold over 22,000 copies. When the editor retired, he wrote and thanked me for my contribution to his publishing company’s success.  Personally, I’m still thanking the poet who attracted all those delighted readers, my mother Ernestine.
      Mother carried a pad and pencil with her, always, never knowing when inspiration would call.  If

an idea for a verse came to her while she was driving, she would pull over and hastily record it.

When she visited friends or family, it was "Ernestine's way" to spend much of her time scribbling

away on her note pad, capturing lyrical phrases before they could escape.  “The Captive” is an


                                                Once upon a summer time
I caught a fairy in a rhyme
Lovely in her coral gown,
Shimmering from toe to crown.

She quaintly perched upon my pen.
She smiled confidingly, and then
Arose, as airy as perfume,
And lightly toured my little room,
‘Til tired, she paused to teeter-totter
Delicately on my blotter.

Fashioned in a dream’s cocoon,
A winged thing of word and tune,
Bolder grown, she flew to stand
With tiny grace upon my hand.

How could I meet her trusting look
And shut her in a fairy book?
                                                So once upon a summer day,
                                                I let a fairy fly away!

In the sixties, Ernestine became well known through the publication of her verses in all the popular children’s magazines and was often invited by teachers and librarians to give talks on her experiences as a writer.  
She told her listeners that Pamela Travers once said on television:  "I did not write the Mary Poppins story.  I listened and took down what I heard."  This, Ernestine went on, “is a common experience of authors, artists, inventors, and others engaged in creative efforts. The subconscious mind never rests, once it receives a project from the conscious mind, but continues to work tirelessly while you sleep.”     
Ernestine Beyer believed not only in the power of the subconscious mind but also in the power of positive thinking.  On occasions when she was dealing with sorrow, anxiety, or any other negative emotions, she sublimated her feelings in verse.  In 1954, in one of her letters to me, she enclosed "The Remedy." 
                  When I am grieved, from time to time,
                              I sublimate the fact in rhyme,
                  And so, to state it plain and terse,
                                         Things always go from bad to verse!

       After the painfulness of my mother's death in 1972, ten years passed before I felt ready to delve into her legacy—several large cartons filled with poems and stories.  The collection proved to be a treasure trove.  Spellbound as I read poem after poem, many of which I had never seen, I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of my mother's gifts.    Getting an acceptance for my latest book based on her poems was a long process, but I persisted.  Taped inside Mom’s typewriter case was advice from Calvin Coolidge:

        Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence.  Talent will not.  There is nothing in the 

world more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is 

almost a proverb.  Education will not.  The world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and 

determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan, "Press on," has always and always will

solve the problems of the human race.
        Between the years 1993 to 2004, I submitted to 60 different publishers an activity book called Read Me a Rhyme, Please.  Many of the rejection letters spoke warmly of Ernestine Beyer’s talents as a poet and encouraged me to try again.  ,  Continuing to “press on,” I saw my local post office clerk oftener that I saw my children.  I remembered how Mom used to say she could paper a wall with her rejection slips.  
     In 1928, she wrote forlornly to my father, away on a business trip: "All my poems are coming back and back.  Each time it is like a kick in the stomach!  I know just how Dempsey felt when Tunney pummeled his bad eye.”
     Oh, how I empathized with my mother 75 years later.  Every time my address appeared on a 

returned envelope, oof! It was like a punch in the solar plexus.  In December of 2004, I had finally 

given up and almost forgotten my endeavors, when I received a call from Gary Wilson of Humanics 

Publishing Group.   “We are going to publish your book,” he announced.    
     Now enjoying my 80s, I have had the pleasure of spending many hours on my computer, compiling this new book, Read Me a Rhyme. Please.  We’ve come a long way, Mom.  Couldn’t have done it without you.
Update 11-22-2016 
     Time hurtles on, and I am now 96, gritting what teeth I have left, trying to overcome my computer's tendency to foil pathetic attempts to format documents my way, not its way.  Happy holidays, dear visitors -- may all of your computers cooperate before and after the coming year!  

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