Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What to do with a good poem with multiple good endings

I generated 4 or 5 Haiku [poems] using a cold experience in June in Turlock, CA, where it's supposed to be hot this time of year. Here's part of my e-mail exchange with a friend, in which I count syllables just to show I've got legal Haiku. But note how many nuances there are with easy-looking changes.

______Spring Forgot - [original] ______

[5 syllables]   Spring forgot her mission.
[7 syllables]   In May, she warmed one day, then
[5 syllables]   Back came wintry cold.

______Spring Forgot -B______

[5]  Spring forgot her mission.
[7]  In May, she warmed one day, then
[5] Blew fresh, powd’ry snow. 

______Spring Forgot - C______
Spring forgot her mission.
In May, she warmed one day, then
Blew fresh, fluffy snow.

______Spring Forgot - D______

Spring forgot her mission.
In May, she warmed one day, the
Next day, slipp’ry snow. 

______Spring Forgot - E______

Spring forgot her mission.
In May, she warmed one day, the
Next day, slipped-in snow.
…only to prove 1) you can re-write till hell freezes over; 2) the hard part is picking the best for readings/publishing.

Analyzing the different versions.

A) I thought the original, while true to the day on which it was modeled, seems a bit bleak. Maybe, not enough in keeping with what I want my audience to hear.

B) Therefore the search is on for something less bleak. Version B emphasis a light, fluffy, non-dangerous snow, yet still puts across "a cold day" after a warm day.

C) Changes powd'ry, which is a great newly-invented contraction word, with a word "fluffy" that provides onomatopoeia. The two f words "fresh, fluffy" in a quick succession add lyrically, although "fluffy" is, perhaps, more mundane than "powd'ry."

D) "Slipp'ry" changes the whole of emphasis to a funny slipping and sliding, i.e., now warm May day (safe and comfortable) is followed by a rather hazardous day. The coldness is implied, but not very emphasized. It's a fun or ending (bad, uncoordinated thing happening to a person other than the reader).

E) "Slipped-in" is a play on words that suggests two completely different meanings (but the hyphenated words put it squarely as one meaning. In this meaning, the personification of May is emphasized. May has a quirky mind of her own and, this cold day, is a bit mischievous. May is given a real personality, and that is done very economically, and, in addition, reminds us one can slip and look uncoordinated or even break a bone.

Now the only question is which one do I choose to publish? I don't know! Writing is a game of choices. What should the next sentence say? There is no one correct answer, apparently.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grand Canyon via Helicopter

There's a story about how I saw The Grand Canyon, you know, that big gulch caused by the Colorado River and a rising of the Kaibob plateau about 10,000,000 years ago. My trip was from Las Vegas to that canyon in AZ, but the story is not written this time. I made a 15 minute video some of you might want to see.

I'm just testing if I know how to "embed" it per instructions of YouTube video. This video I shot on my early May vacation

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mary Travers Poem Completed

Wilby, a.k.a., Bill Belew accused some of us in the club of living off what we already wrote and doing no significant current writing. That I applies to 70% of us (my guess from the lack of contributions to the Writers Talk Newsletter). Well he made me feel guilty so I finished a poem I'd started months ago when Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) passed away. I include a few snippets here (it's a two page poem).

To Mary Travers
Richard Burns Copyright April 2011

Mary, with the crystal voice,
You beside the two bearded ones.
Dedication, passion, talent, luck, ambition, your time in history
Melded to make Peter, Paul, and Mary. 

You with Peter Yarrow, the sensitive intellect,
Noel Paul Stoockey, the showy one with sound effects,
Strumming and singing,
Some tunes new, some familiar,
Harmonies honed to lean perfection. 

Practice sessions searching, rearranging,
Seven months of finding out what works,
Your group’s debut at The Bitter End,
A happening place,
Built of brick on Bleaker Street,
Greenwich Village.

That's how it starts. Here's how it ends.

Thanks for the sound of hope.
Thanks for the feeling that
“Things are pretty terrific and will even get better.”
Thanks for that fire you and Peter and Paul lit in me
And the fleeting vigor that can still pulse in my blood
When I hear truth sing.

I heard that children loved you
And you loved children.
I know many, many adults will miss you.

I can hope I won’t miss you as much.
Eight of your albums lean in original covers,
Still right next to my turntable and hi-fi.
I keep it in good repair.

Hope your writing is going well.  -rb

Halloween Costume Party, CWC, South Bay Writers

This may be ancient news, but I'm practicing embedding videos. I (and Mike Freda) shot a video of the Halloween Costume Contest taken at our October 12, Tuesday night meeting. There are some familiar faces in unfamiliar get-ups. The contest was a lot of fun and some were definitely in the spirit of the thing. I'm Abraham Lincoln, so friend and great writer, Mike Freda shot that footage of the line-up with my camcorder. We are supposed to have chosen a famous writer or someone who's a character in a famous or infamous book, but really, just about anything goes. This merriment takes place at the Lookout Restaurant (affiliated to The Sunnyvale Golf Course, CA).  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writer's Block

Writer's block. What's that? I got writers deluge, and have no clue where to start. I'm bailing the liquid out of my boat with two buckets and getting winded in the process.  --I posted this on Facebook minutes ago. Not sure if there's an action item in there somewhere. Write something, I guess. Anything.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writing Tip: Leave It Out

We writers think, oh, boy, there's another creative sentence that shows up in our mind. It fits the story, the narrator's voice, the characters jargon. It's perfect. It's something more, and it's good so we put it in.

Watch that tendency to think every "good" thought that's relevant belongs in your current project. Very often it's a mistake, and too many of these wrong choices will prevent you story from getting published and/or read.

What does your brilliant new idea do for the story? To the pace of the story? Does it slow things down? Does it read too long with your brain child entered. Look at it three days later. Now, does it read long, seem clumsier than you thought, putting a goddam speed-bump in the pacing? We all hate speed-bumps. You can bet the reader hates them too. Even though the idea, sitting alone, is a brilliant idea, brilliantly stated. It's almost great, showing off, even, but heavens to Betsy, you really do like that line.

Put the brakes on. One of the talents of a superior writer is knowing when not to put the good writing in the story. Unpublished writers have a very hard time always recognizing this in practice. My guess is every single page of your project has at least one or two sentences that aren't essential to the story, to the character building, to the suspense and conflict you are trying to get across to King Reader.

With all my railing against redundancy, I'm sure I understand this and know tons of examples in my own work. But I continue to catch myself putting all my good thoughts into the story.

Tip: Most of the time, leave it out. That goes double if it comes to you during a rewriting session. You should be striving to dump 50% of your words, not the other way around.

Less is more. Remember it, and live it! Your readers will love your writing for it. They'll be turning pages like crazy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Apparently, A Word I Use Too Much

Okay, I found another word (see previous article) that I habitually use. The word is "apparently." The use of it, even once (unless it's inside dialog or in a first person's quirky habits of use) is most likely redundant.

On to other comments: Yesterday, I polished a song I had written 20 years ago and turned it into a poem. Can rhyming poetry have a refrain line? Or a bridge section? I guess I could use poetic license and do it, anyway.

I woke up a bit too early this morning, (Saturday) Jan 29, 2011, with an extraordinarily busy mind; a thousand little poems racing around in there. Pat Bustamante's challenge to my South Bay club poetry writers is to make them short. Trite seems to be allowable. Unfortunately, I'll not remember them all. (Maybe, that's fortunate.)

Let me start one here, I'll polish it later.

It's Golf

Watch the V's in your grip,
Head down the round trip.
Straight left arm and don't rush it.
Long, wide arc, you'll crush it,
Be firm, no self-doubt,
Follow through, inside out.

I've got it wrong, apparently.
It's golf that's got its grip on me.

Hey, you know, that's not too bad. Still a little lengthy for Pat, I fear. Write on, friends.  ;^)