Writing it Wrong.

You know how sometimes you think “that’s it, life is about to slow down and go back to normal…”

And then it doesn’t?

Well, that’s the way it’s been for me, anyway. I thought that after my brother completed his teacher certification, I’d be able to get back on an even keel, but that’s not what life had in store for me. So apologies if my blogging remains somewhat erratic for a while; I’m done making promises.

Although I can’t entirely blame my lack of a Tuesday blog post on the things that are keeping life weird right now… my only excuse for that, besides the fact that I have simply dropped my brain, is that I ended up taking my dad to see Dr. Strange for his birthday, and I completely forgot the significance of that day of the week.

I wish I could do that time-warp-y thing he does.

dr-stephen-strange-doctor-strange-2016-39801012-500-208

But I can’t, and I’m digressing…

What I really want to talk to you about today is this thing that I discovered for myself the day after Christmas. It may not be a mind-blowing new idea for any of you amazing, intelligent people, but for me it was a little epiphany.

My resident poet / brother set an exercise for the two of us, where he picked a poetic meter and form, as well as a rhetorical device that we had to work into our poems. Now, I am not a natural poet, but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I like to use poetry as an exercise because I think it does a fantastic job of teaching an economical and potent use of language. So I did the exercise with him.

It wasn’t going well at first, and I was tempted to just scrap the thing and start fresh.

And that’s when I had that little epiphany, so I burbled a bit in my idea notebook:

When you write something and it doesn’t work, a common tendency is to crumple it into a ball and chuck it in the garbage. Understandable, but don’t do it! If you can tell something isn’t working, figure out why. You’ll be that much closer to knowing what will work. For instance, if the bouncy rhythm of the words you chose don’t lend themselves to the smoky atmosphere you’re trying to convey, what rhythm will?

Does that make sense? Even if you can sense* that the best place for the piece you’re working on is inside the bin, don’t just toss it in without taking the time to learn whatever you can from it. Sometimes, writing is a process of elimination. It’s like Thomas Edison said:

“But the student will find that experience is the best teacher. The reason why I get along with comparative ease now is because I know from experience the enormous number of things that won’t work. For instance, I start on a new invention to-morrow. From the great number of experiments I have made, and the vast amount of information I have stored up, I am saved a great deal of time and trouble in not having to travel over barren ground.”

There. I gave you an inspirational quote to make up for Tuesday. Hope it helps!


 

*That was Polyptoton, incidentally, which happens to be the rhetorical device I used in my poem. Basically, Polyptoton is when you use the same word with a different meaning. I used it here purely on accident, because I was writing lazily. When I caught it, I was about to find a different word for the second instance, but then I realized that I could use the clumsiness to pass myself off as being very clever. So there you have the secret to any success I will ever have.

 

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