Category Archives: writing

Writing Resolutions 2014

At the beginning of December I saw an article on ways writers can prepare for the New Year. I rather liked the list. I related to many of the items which involved purchasing new notebooks/journals with the intent of being organized about ideas and writing. I’ve done those before and enjoy the process of buying a fresh new notebook. Then the notebook gets dusty, or only half-used. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I need to focus on some other ways to prepare for a  new writing year.

I decided to do one thing at a time. I did number 10 — got a haircut. Now I need to FINISH a lurking nagging project (3). Then I can refocus on what is to come. While I’m finishing that lurking project, I may take notes on when I feel like I did my most productive work in order to block that time off for writing in future (26).

What about you? Anything you’ve got for 2014 in terms of new ways to approach writing? Are they represented on this list?

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Turgid Prose

Previously in this space I have lamented Turgid Academic Prose. I have found one reason rising academics continue to write with such a pompous bombastic style: profs teach it.

I am reading a book on writing a particular kind of advanced research paper. It advises students that they should be formal and not be overly chummy in their style. I agree. An academic paper is not a blog post or a tweet or a facebook update. The author then quotes paragraphs from two sample research papers which I consider prime examples of Turgid Prose and lauds these as showing proper depth and academic rigour. One paragraph does not show depth or academic rigour. It may suggest that a subject will be treated with such depth and rigour, but it does not have to be dense and unreadable to do so. I throw up my hands in disgust. Why can’t North American academics write? Because they are told that if they write too clearly, they clearly don’t have any Big Ideas. This is so backwards I hardly know how to begin to reverse it. I do the only thing I can: advise my students to write clearly. Writing clearly does not mean you don’t have big ideas. Writing clearly does mean others may benefit from understanding your big ideas.

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That’s all for now

To wrap up April, a couple of Clerihews composed while waiting for the bus this morning. A book on women of the gospels has been simmering on the back burner for a long time. I’m a little worried it might be over cooked. Anyhow,  I have been giving them some thought as evidenced here.

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Was (quite rightly) wary

When an angel – Gabriel

Appeared with news to tell.

 

Mary Magdalene

Why are we so keen

To label you a harlot

When the gospels do not.

 

And that’s a wrap for poetry month 2013. It has been fun.

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The Wreck of a Writer’s Draft Novel

I’ve had the idea for this poem in my head since November and NaNoWriMo. I ran into a snag this month, and ran out of time to finish it. I realized this afternoon that I have to publish what I’ve got. Instead of six verses, there is only one so far. Maybe someone else will feel inspired by it and finish it off. I’ll keep working on it, but I’ve run out of time for Poetry Month. There’s just been too much going on. With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot, here is the first verse of a new ballad.

The Wreck of a Writer’s Draft Novel

The legend has grown, would-be writers are told

Of the project they call NaNoWriMo.

NaNo it is said, leaves all wordsmiths for dead

At the end of November if they’re slow.

Sixteen hundred words a day or you’re in a big hole

Much to big to climb out without Word Wars.

The goal a first draft of a novel – tis true!

So the “Words of November” need to flow.

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50 Years of Camp

This afternoon was a big staff event for the camp I grew up attending and where I now volunteer. It was a celebration of 50 years of camp — and 50 years is a big deal as we were reminded this afternoon. It was great to see so many familiar faces, to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in many years and to enjoy being together. It was also nice to get encouragement from some of the faithful readers of this blog, two of whom mentioned the blog this afternoon, and one said she really liked the poems. Thanks Whatsit, I’ll be able to finish now!

Since it is still April, you know I’m going to write a poem about the event. I’ve decided to write a poem based on Pascal’s Triangle again, but using the numbers in the triangle to guide how many syllables a word must have. I decided to stop after the fifth line as I didn’t want to hit the 10 syllable words demanded by the sixth line of the triangle.

Just

one word

to describe it?

Wow. Ambitious. Exciting. Full.

Big. Extroverted. Indefatigable. Overwhelming. Fun.

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April is almost over

In the category “April is the cruelest month” you will be glad to know that there are only four more blog posts containing poetry to endure before I will have completed the Poem a day challenge. I know it has been a long month. I thought about quitting, but haiku kept me going. Apparently there is such a thing as a Haiku Slam. Who knew?

A Haiku a day

Must keep something away!

I am not sure what.

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Pascal’s Poem, or Erasure with a Twist

So I just had this great idea for a crazy random erasure poem. I’ll go through the first page of Pride and Prejudice (as printed in my particular copy) and take the words indicated in each line by Pascal’s triangle! In the first row, the first word. In the second row, the first and second word, in the third row, the first, third and fourth word, etc. Lets see what we get.

It

of a

However known the

his a truth is

minds families the some one

My his Netherfield had returned she

told Bennet his why young the north.

That

was so

that is to

servants be house by.

What Bingley Oh! to be

four year how his be so

you thinking nonsense, them occasion girls may.

Excellent. Nonsense. Just what is needed for a Friday night.

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Running out

Almost out of time for a Thursday. I’ve been listening to The Horse and His Boy via audio books from Harper Audio. All the Narnia books are performed by people like Patrick Stewart and Lynn Redgrave and Kenneth Branaugh. Very good fun. Hurray for the library and e-audio books.

Hurray for neighbours!

Who can’t stand the loud music

Either. And go knock.

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Erasing Jane

Erasure Poetry has caught my eye before today, so I thought I’d give it a try on this, the 24th day of April, and so the 24th day of the NaPoWriMo challenge. I decided to try my hand at writing Erasure Poetry based on the first page of Pride and Prejudice from my particular copy of Jane Austen’s 200-year-old novel. This is the raw material I started with:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

Mr Bennet replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.

You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

This was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune form the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”

“What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is he married or single?”

“Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

“How so? How can it affect them?”

“My dear Mr Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”

“Is that his design in settling here?”

“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”

And here is the poem left after some erasure:

Truth a single possession —

In Truth, rightful long answer:

Single be fine

Marrying nonsense.

I have reversed Mrs. B’s meaning, my work here is done.

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The Things One Learns

While writing poetry for a month, I’ve found that I like set forms best. They help me shape the random thoughts I’ve got into something. If I write experimentally or something I need a format. Also, short is better.

I like Haiku best

Because I am concise.

Person of few words.

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