Monday, April 22, 2013

I Now Know What I'm Doing

Yes, I know it's been two weeks since my last post. I hope I haven't disappointed anyone. I have a good reason for my lapse, though: finals. I have been up to my chin in research and term papers and revisions. But now, the semester is over, and I can stop all the reading and writing and write. No, seriously. I went to the library today to check out all the books I've been waiting until I had time to read, and I'm starting to brainstorm my next novel. Ah, well. It's the curse of the writers. Which reminds me, I got my sister watching Doctor Who and now she's addicted and I'm proud. I'm also going to draw tally marks on my arms tomorrow. If you're into Doctor Who, you understand. If not, look it up.

Anyway, my motto this semester has been, "I have no idea what I'm doing." I was a fiction writer taking no fiction classes, but nonfiction and poetry. I started the semester not knowing how to write competently in those styles, but I think I've learned my lessons well. So, as the title of this post says, I now know what I'm doing. Allow me to share my wisdom that I've gleaned over the semester with you.
  • Never say "allow me to share my wisdom." It sounds pretentious.
  • The power of poetry is in being surprising: surprising images, emotions, juxtapositions.
  • The bias seems to be against poetry that rhymes, unless you can make the rhymes almost invisible.
  • It is possible to go a winter with one glove, if you have deep coat pockets.
  • It's also possible to go a winter with one glove and completely forget the spare glove in the closet.
  • Doctor Who is awesome!
  • As is BBC's Robin Hood.
  • In nonfiction writing, you will bare your soul. And that's okay.
  • Too much baring, however, can make readers feel dirty, like they're at a peep show.
  • Teaching is awesome. Grading is about as fun as injecting fire ants into your eardrums.
  • The music of words is, in poetry, more important than meaning. Listen.
  • In nonfiction, music and meaning must combine.
  • Also, nonfiction can be very rambling. It takes the writer's skill to control the rambling and end when the piece is complete, not when there is no more to say.
  • Excellent writing can cover a multitude of sins. Like bad plotting, or logical gaffes.
  • So, if I write fiction with beautiful language, I might get away with more.
  • All words are words. Even "treewhippery."
  • Poetry and nonfiction seem to be art forms where the right brain acts first, and the left brain refines, as opposed to the other way around.
  • I make a mean Milky Way cake.
Best I can do now. Writing is such a slippery subject, particularly poetry and nonfiction. Fiction has more rules: rules of craft, rules of storytelling, etc. Poetry and nonfiction, not so much. Nonfiction must not be fictional (though some made-up stuff needs to happen), and poetry must avoid cliches. These are the only "rules" I can think of for these forms, and even then, I bet they can be bent or broken as needed. I'm looking forward, however, to applying what I've learned to my fiction.

Maybe I'll write a character who likes British television and loses her gloves!

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