A Good Story

Last week was full of good writing.  I got to interview and meet some amazing people and best of all, write about it.

While interviewing one of the Sisters of Mercy, I found that we had several connections.  It never ceases to amaze me the connections that we have to total strangers, let alone a nun. By now I should be used to it, but I always find I have the same reaction–Completely surprised.

The Sister had previously lived in Woonsocket, R.I. and I had also lived there for a while too.  She had also recently gone to a ceremony naming a new priest, and it turns out that I went to school with him (really small world!) Then some how we both ended up here in Northern New Hampshire.

I had a wonderful time talking to them about their life and their dedication to the church and community.

I had been interviewing the Sisters to learn more about a woman who had spent half of her life serving in our area. For the past forty years she had been educating and helping those in need. Truly a remarkable story.

My other wonderful moment of the day was being there to photograph a woman as she received the Cane of Wisdom for being the oldest resident of our city; she had just turned 100. Her daughter and grandson were there as she accepted the gift presented by the Mayor.

Stories like these make me happy. I feel connected to the people around me, and I feel like I am able to make a difference with the words that I write.

These are my favorite types of stories to write.

 

How would you rewrite these words?

This was an assignment that I did for class this week. We were given a list of words and asked to rewrite them into a poem, but keeping them in order.

The goal of the assignment was to play around with the words to create meaning, and learn about line breaks and creating a different sound based on the breaks.

Here is the original list of words:

backroad leafmold stonewall
chipmunk underbrush grapevine
woodchuck shadblow woodsmoke
cowbarn honeysuckle woodpile
sawhorse bucksaw outhouse
wellsweep backdoor flagstone
bulkhead buttermilk candlestick
ragrug firedog brownbread hilltop
outcrop cowbell buttercup
whetstone thunderstorm pitchfork
steeplebush gristmill millstone
cornmeal waterwheel watercress
buckwheat firefly jewelweed
gravestone groundpine windbreak
bedrock weathercock snowfall
starlight cockcrow

Here is my interpretation of the words:

BACKROAD

Leafmold, stonewall chipmunk.

Underbrush grapevine-

Woodchuck shadblow….

COWBARN

Honeysuckle.

Woodpile.

Sawhorse bucksaw;

OUTHOUSE

Backdoor, flagstone.

Bulkhead

Buttermilk–

Candlestick.

Ragrug ,firedog, brown-bread.

HILLTOP

Cowbell buttercup.

Whetstone,

Thunderstorm

Pitchfork,

Steeplebush.

GRISTMILL

Millstone, cornmeal.

Waterwheel-watercress.

Buckwheat.

Firefly Jewelweed.

GRAVESTONE

Groundpine, windbreak-

bedrock.

Weathercock,

Snowfall

Starlight Cockcrow.

 

Writing: Character Development and how it relates to your story

I had a revelation today while working on a journal entry for class. I was reflecting on a poem that I had written from the point of view of someone else.

In my poem I told a story of a young girl who had just turned 18. Mad at her mother she left home, and began to prostitute herself out.

I tried to create a picture of what this girl was like. I used imagery that I felt would be relate-able, and I hoped that the reader would feel for her situation. I wanted the reader to understand how desperate and lonely she was, but apparently I tried to hard…….. Elmore-Leonard-Writing-Quote-Poster

I could have seen it coming, I hadn’t really laid out the character in enough depth for me to even connect with her.

My biggest flaw was not making her story completely believable, basically my peers just didn’t buy it. I have very little experience with creating characters, but I can see how careful planning is important so that the reader understands how they went from point A to B and C.

I have also learned that sometimes too much information can really detract from your story.  By creating an in-depth back story for my character I actually took away from the main focus of the story.

In a previous post I talked about knowing your goal for each of writing. What is the point that I want to make and what are the key points that I want to highlight.

If I had worked through this step a little more I think I would have realized that I didn’t need such a lengthy back story, and I could have just jumped right in.

Sometimes a strong back story is necessary for connecting the dots, and other times it isn’t. “Know when to hold em’ and when to fold em’.”

The Girl with the Tattoos

VOICE

She smiles and says hello.

Like the song of the morning birds,

it is her voice that I want to hear.

Her voice

is sweet and honest.

Not a hint of artificial ingredients;

She is pure.

SMILE

But it is her smile

that gets me

every time.

Her smile lights up a room

even on the greyest day.

I am certain she must whiten her teeth

For it is far too perfect.

HAIR

Her hair is not ideal;

Black like my morning coffee,

but it fits her.

A bit of edge to break up the routine.

She reminds me Joan Jett

in the earlier days.

TATTOOS

Her skin is scattered with random art,Flower_Glow

Graffiti from different artists.

It paints a picture

of the life that she has lived

wild and reckless

LUST is by far my favorite.

SKIN

How can you not love a woman’s skin

Soft and touchable,

Like walking through the aisles of a clothing store

I want to touch it all.

Poetry: Creating Depth

Poetry comes from the heart, the personality of the writer. Their voice and their intentions come through in their writing.

Poetry needs to be more than just words on paper, it needs to have depth.  Depth can be created a variety of ways, but here are some easy ones to try:

Tone of voice: The tone of a poem, or any writing is very important. Is the poem sad, happy, dejected? What is the tone that you want to create. Sometimes understanding the tone of your poem comes after the fact, but sometimes knowing your tone can give you direction.

womenSpeaker/ persona: This idea is new to me.  Writing as if you are someone else.  This is likely the non-fiction writer in me coming out, but I always write as if I am myself, and never as someone else.  If you haven’t already you should give it a try.

Point of view: Is very similar to speaker or persona. When I think of point of view I also think of writing as if I were something abstract or not as concrete as a person like water, or a flower.  Not that I do much of that in my writing, but it is possible that I might give it a try.

Situation: This one is also similar two the previous two, but when we talk about situation we talk about setting the scene. Where are these people or objects, what are they doing. Creating a situation that people can relate to can be very engaging.  I think that often times with poetry we think more about the emotion that the situation that brought us there.

Figurative language: Adding figurative language can really add to the beauty of the poem. Figurative language is mostly commonly created by using metaphors and similes.

Sound: Is a broad term that covers area like rhyme, repetition and sounds. Some poems use certain letters or words throughout to create unity.  There must be whole books on sound, because it really is a broad topic.

Now I have to admit even after talking about all this, when I write a poem I usually don’t give it much though. I just sit down and write. I am getting much better about creating tone, and the persona but I am new to figurative language and especially sound.

My writing goal for the near future is to expand on my style and include more of these devices into my poetry to create depth.

Are there tools that you like to use to create depth in your poetry, and do you have a method to your madness when you write, or do you just let it flow?

Losing my urge to want more

I have been working hard to break the cycle of wanting.  As a society we always want what we don’t have. Another pair of shoes, a newer car, a different job.  It’s always something.

I used to buy things just to buy them.  It didn’t really matter if I needed it or not, it just felt good to buy it.  It became even harder to resist when it was a really good deal.

Thrift stores were the worst. How could you pass up a pair of the perfect jeans when they are only a dollar; you just can’t.

Part this “process” is also eliminating the things that I do have, that I don’t need.  I am not sure which is harder, not buying things, or getting rid of items you already own.

I have whittled my closet down, so that all my clothes, for all seasons fit in there. Impressive I know (and no my closet isn’t that big).

I still have my garage to go through, but I have begun to make piles, and slowly but surely I am getting there.

itemsNot acquiring new items means being happy with what I already have and seeing the value in it. Sure there are lots of items I would like to have, but at the end of the day owning won’t improve my life.

Now that’s not to say that I haven’t bought a few small items that I could really see adding value to my life. I bought two new sun dresses for this summer, always a staple in my work and casual wardrobe, and I made a new to me necklace with some items I found at a vintage store, and I practically wear it everyday.

So for me I see the purpose in adding those items to my life.  Other than that I think I have done quite well.

I have become much better about thinking my purchases through, and really analyzing if this is something that I need. I also look at what I already own and does this already exist?

I find that I am saving lots of money by doing this. It’s amazing how quickly money can get spent, and on items that we really don’t need. Five dollars here, another twenty there. It really can go quick.

It hasn’t been easy, there are plenty of times that I almost convinced myself that I NEEDED to buy it, but the next day I knew that I had made the right choice.

I really believe that these life changing ideas take time.  There are some days that I have to tell myself over and over that I don’t need these items. Almost like a little pep talk to stay on the straight and narrow. Sounds silly, but it really does work.

In the end I really am happier, and I enjoy the items that I do have that much more. Plus it is less to clean, less to sort and less to worry about. And we all know how much I like to worry!