The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:21 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

Textually Gifted

By Mike Gowen

I can play the piano. I can type upwards of 50 words a minute. When it comes to my smartphone, however, I am not textually gifted. I’m all thumbs when it comes to texting. I mean that literally. I text using my two thumbs and do it very slowly. I am the brunt of jokes over my painfully slow and awkward texting method. My wife and children will be in a group text and have entire conversations in the time it takes me to respond to the first text. Our kids will text my wife while waiting for me to respond and ask, “Is he still typing?” Being a writer and old school I also despise typing in code, using emoji’s and abbreviations for words. If I want an answer, I type, let me know, not LMK. I’m reminded of a story about a woman who replied LOL to her relatives over news her aunt died, thinking it meant Lots of Love. I can imagine her daughter, horrified, asking, “Mom, why are you replying Laugh Out Loud to everyone… didn’t you like Aunt Susie?”

There are some benefits from being this way. I’m never tempted to text while driving. In the time it would take me to respond to a text I could drive from Advance to Clemmons. I’m fairly certain it would be a safety issue to keep my eyes off the road that long. Not to mention I would miss my exit. Wait, how did I end up in Winston-Salem? Oh right, I was texting and missed my exit in Clemmons. My kids keep trying to train me, offering pointers to increase my speed. I’ll humor them and try, only to revert the minute they leave. What can I say? I’m a thumbs man.

Family History

By Marie Craig

“Tell me about your grandparents.”  Hopefully, you were able to know at least one grandparent in your life.  If someone asked you this, what would you say?  You wouldn’t be here without him/her, or you would be somebody totally different.  A chance remark mentioned to one person is interesting, but not lasting.  There are several ways in which you can document your ancestors.

You could write a book which would include photographs, documents, and personal memories. Online publishing is easy and inexpensive. You compile your book on your home computer, change to pdf format, upload it to one of many online sites, and in a week or so, you’ll receive a bound book about your family. It doesn’t have to be perfect or capable of winning a prize. It’s your book and your memories to honor special people.

There are many online services for you to organize and document your family. The largest, and free, is You can type in the information about your people, include photographs, describe memories with the written or spoken word, and search to see if there are other researchers kin to you. If you need help with this, you can visit the Family History Center at 4780 Westchester Road in Winston-Salem. Hours are Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9-noon; Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Saturdays, 2-4 p.m.  There are seven computers, books, microfilm, and microfiche for you to use for free.  You can access websites for free that you must pay for at home. is another site for research and listing your family tree. There is an annual fee to use it at home, but it is free at the Family History Center and public libraries.

MyHeritage is another site for listing trees, but it has an annual fee.

Perhaps you want only to label and display your ancestors’ photographs. If you own an old photo, you’ll want to label it with the person’s name and dates. Digitizing it by copying with a camera, smartphone or scanner allows you make copies to share. If it’s framed with glass, it will sometimes be difficult to copy without reflections. There are special stands with side lighting that can eliminate most of the reflections. This is assuming you can’t take the picture out of the frame.

Other uses for documenting data and pictures are to share at family reunions, create a display wall in your home of family photos, or to write a cookbook, for example, of your grandmother’s favorite recipes illustrated with images of her and her family.

You’ll be blessed by having an experience of bonding with family, and your children and grandchildren will be grateful that you helped them to learn more about their ancestors.

Airwaves of Stress

By Kevin F. Wishon

The cramped room appears to be a broom closet except for all the electronic equipment and recorded media lying about the confined space. Inside, Dave settles into a rolling chair in front of a wooden desk with a well-worn tabletop riser. He can actually imagine someone experiencing a claustrophobic episode in this tight booth. Carefully, Dave lays out his prepared pages hoping numerous practice run-throughs will remove the anxiety he is feeling. Is he ready for this? A muted voice from the other side of the studio glass in front of him removes further hesitation.

“I’m ready to record,” a studio engineer says looking directly at Dave.

“Just start reading when I motion to you on the count of one. Here we go. Three, two-.”

The engineer points toward Dave as he counts down each number excluding one. Dave resists his habit to say umm and begins reading his prepared lines.

“The first week of November is National Skilled Trades Week. As a local high school student, I want to tell you about the automotive course I’m currently taking and how it is preparing me for a career in the years to come. I’m Dave, and before taking this course, I had very little knowledge of how a vehicle operates… ”

Dave’s recorded read-through starts well, but soon, he is stumbling over words as he reads his prepared sentences. Before he can finish, he is breathless and sweating. Dave’s anxiety rises and pierces the bubble of his confidence. Once completed, he is not pleased with his performance and immediately asks for another chance. Reluctantly, the engineer agrees and resets the equipment.

A second attempt produces an even poorer result. Dave’s frustration with his effort shakes him, and he considers surrendering to the situation. Suddenly, Dave recalls hearing an interview in which a radio disc jockey mentions how he handles stress when reading on air. When the disc jockey feels the loss of control over his performance, he pauses just a little longer at the end of sentences. This trick allows him to reassert control and calm his nerves.

     “I believe I can do better if I try one more time,” Dave pleads.

“You did just fine. Don’t worry about it,” the engineer assures him.

“Please. I know what I’m doing wrong. Let me try one more time, and I will accept it no matter how it turns out.”

     The engineer looks sharply at Dave for a moment clearly annoyed this teen is taking forever to read a sixty-second spot. Seeing Dave’s intense determination to correct his previous efforts, the engineer once again resets the equipment and begins the countdown.

     Two months pass. and Dave hears no more about the radio spot he cut weeks earlier. He reassures himself few people are likely to listen to the promo air on the local radio station, so he forgets about it. Shortly afterward, a fellow student stops Dave in the high school hallway. Since he does not have a class with this student, the interaction surprises Dave. Moments later, he is grateful for it. It makes his day.

“Hey, I heard you on the radio the other day. You did a good job with that radio spot.”

Do Not Resuscitate

By Gaye Hoots

One evening as I approached the psychiatric unit where I was the evening charge nurse, a tech on the unit who was a friend of mine intercepted me and pulled me into a room. “I wanted to catch you before you got inside and let you know what is going on. The charge nurse on day shift is furious with you. The family of Mr. Smith told her that you believed he might be near death and asked if they wanted to make him a DNR. Neither the nurse nor his doctor believes he is ready to expire. It took them quite a while to do the paperwork, but the doctor has gone to complete the request.”

I thanked her for the heads up and gave her a few minutes to get back to the unit before I entered. I had worked the weekend shift, and the elderly patient had labored breathing that resembled death rattles to me. His mind was completely gone, and he was helpless. He was conscious but could not communicate, was incontinent, only taking fluids, and moaned continuously.

The hospital policy was to do a code on any patient who did not have a legal copy of a DNR displayed on the unit. It was my personal belief that this was a form of needless torture for both the patient and their family. As I walked onto the unit, a Code Blue was announced, and a nurse raced by me with the code cart and entered Mr. Smith’s room. My friend smirked at me and asked,” How did you do that?”

I shook my head and silently prayed that his doctor would make it back to the unit before the code was implemented. The nurse in the patient’s room yelled that the defibrillator was not working and to call the adjoining unit for their code cart. I continued to silently pray that Mr. Smith would not have to endure this torture. It is possible for patients to be revived several times before they finally expire.

The code from the other unit arrived as I continued to pray. Just as the nurse started to apply the paddles to Mr. Smith’s chest, his doctor raced in with the DNR papers and stopped the code. Neither the charge nurse nor the doctor ever mentioned the incident to me, but the patient’s family did express their gratitude.