Arlington Citizen-Journal

Author’s piano tale lands in ‘Chicken Soup’

Mary Ann Hayhurst of Arlington wrote a story about learning to play the piano as an adult, and it was included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
Mary Ann Hayhurst of Arlington wrote a story about learning to play the piano as an adult, and it was included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Star-Telegram

Mary Ann Hayhurst had always secretly wanted to play the piano, she writes in her short story published in the new book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive.

The piano in her home was there for her children to take lessons. But one day, the working mother decided to bury her fear, find a teacher and make it happen.

It was tough to find practice time in her schedule, but she carved out half an hour a day after work, then a full hour.

The rest of her short story Music Lessons, like the 100 other accounts in the book, is a testament to following dreams at any age.

“I just play for recreation now,” she says of her piano skills. “I took lessons for a couple of years, but it has been about five [years] since I stopped.”

She had a few lessons as a child, but military families like hers rarely carried a piano around from move to move.

The Meridian, Miss., native’s larger dream, however, has been writing.

“It's hard to put an exact time on when I started writing, but I sold my first piece in 1980 to a now out-of-print magazine, Everybody’s Money, that our credit union handed out to members,” she said. “I received $25 for that article, and I was thrilled to see my words in print with a byline!”

She continued to write articles and stories for Sunday school publications and other outlets she ran across in her daily life.

“I really love short stories,” she said, “although the markets for them have dwindled over the years, but I also love nonfiction, devotionals, essays and other short pieces.”

A longtime fan of the inspirational Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Hayhurst can now say she has work published in one of the editions.

“It is the biggest thing I’ve sold so far,” she said. “A friend in my writers group encouraged me to submit to them. I was delighted when they said they could use it.”

She submitted her story in December, and it was accepted in mid-March.

“I think writing discovered me. I have always loved to read, and I worked on my high school newspaper,” she said. “I have always leaned towards liberal arts studies, and knew I wanted to make writing a part of my life.”

Hayhurst moved to Arlington in 1980 with her husband, Roy; son, Roy Jr.; and daughter, Cristina, and concentrated on family activities. The Hayhursts now have three grandchildren.

Her passion for writing has never waned.

“Sometimes I have to search and find a storyline to fit my idea, but sometimes they come full blown,” Hayhurst said. “I'll see a topic and that will remind me of something that happened in my life.”

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers and the DFW Ready Writers. Hayhurst is one of 12 writers currently working on a Christmas project that will include a holiday novella from each of them.

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657

Twitter: @shirljinkins