Giving Thanks

  • By Art Taylor
  • November 23, 2015

So much to be grateful for, so little space to list it all...


Here in this week of giving thanks, most of us are hopefully feeling gratitude toward some type of good fortune, whether that be close family or friends or good health or any of a variety of ways of considering what constitutes success. From a writer’s standpoint, I’ve always stressed my great fortune, not only with regard to my own fiction, but also in a bounty of inspiring peers and supporters I’ve been lucky enough to have — a terrific community of writers and readers all around.

But then I began thinking about the other things I have to be thankful for as a writer — the small things. And I wanted to express my endless appreciation here.

Bewley’s Dublin Morning Tea. With a dose of sugar or honey, a bracing start to the morning — clearing the head, settling the sensibilities, and giving a kick-start to the writing day.

Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Pens, extra fine, in red and black. I’ve used these pens for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I can’t write with others; it’s that…well, I wouldn’t want to. The feeling of one in the hand, the flow of the ink at exactly the right width, even the way that they clasp onto my satchel — perfection. The black is for composing; the red is for editing — each bought as needed in the biggest packs of each color I can find. I fret when I see only the small multicolored packs in the store (what would I do with blue, green, pink or — heaven help us — turquoise?); I blanch a little at the thought that Pilot might someday discontinue the line completely. In other news, I refuse to accept the idea that I’m OCD.

Moleskine Pocket Cahier Notebooks, ruled, kraft brown (sold in a three-pack, used one at a time) and (a recent addition!) spiral-bound “Work in Progress” notebook from MakeMyNotebook.com. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the proper size, shape, and feel of a notebook is key to your relationship with it. I feel fortunate to have found two, for different circumstances: the former to keep in my satchel or to slip in my back pocket; the latter as a bedside companion (occasionally ferried back and forth to the office as well) and with lines at precisely the right rule for notes, outlines, or extended composition. (I refuse, again, to accept that diagnosis of being OCD.)

Any of the string of Apple computers I’ve had since 1986. It’s not just brand loyalty.

The Corkboard option on Scrivener. I best understand my fiction spatially, not linearly. This option allows me the fullest at-a-glance perspective on the world of my stories.

Pandora. The John Coltrane station. (A student once told me, “I couldn’t take that all day.” Our conference was, fortunately for each of us, a short one.)

Half of the Internet. As a research tool and for keeping me connected to other writers and readers as well as friends in general — because as we all know, writing can be a lonely art. (The other half of the time, Facebook and Google are just distractions — keeping me from the writing.)

Taylor’s of Harrogate’s Lapsang Souchong tea. Afternoons need a pick-me-up, too. Smoky and intense and at least loosely named as Sherlock Holmes’ favorite tea.

Bourbon — numerous brands. Not in the tea, I should stress, and not as an inspiration, either (never while writing, in fact), but as a nice reward at the end of the writing day. I’d toast bourbon in this regard, but that would require, um, more bourbon — a slippery slope.

My wife, Tara. As tongue-in-cheek as some of this list might be, the truth is that I am indeed fortunate in so many ways — and grateful to my best reader and best friend for all the ways that she has helped me improve my craft.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories. His short fiction has won two Agatha Awards, the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and three Derringer Awards.  He’ll be part of a program featuring 20 mystery writers and hosted by the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime on Saturday, December 5, at 1 p.m. at the Reston Regional Public Library, 11925 Bowman Town Drive, Reston, VA.

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