Ta daa! TL; DR: A Redditwriters Mixtape is finally available on Amazon! Head on over to get your copy, and please, please leave reviews (especially if you like it) and spread the word. All proceeds go to charity, so the more people who buy it, the better.
And yes, there will soon be a print version on Createspace. We’re having some difficulties on the technical end of things, so expect that in a few days.
News news news! The past few months, I’ve been co-editing an anthology of stories and poetry with a whole bunch of fine people. And today, we have a release date! The anthology will be available as of March 30th, via Amazon.com and Createspace.com. Here’s a bit more info.
All proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders, so please, grab a copy and spread the word!
A little bit of silliness to start the day:
I was researching proper punctuation with quotation marks, and found these examples:
Bob snorted and said, “I don’t believe in zombies”―right before thirty of them emerged from the tunnel.
Her favorite song was “Gangnam Style”; she spent weeks trying to learn the dance.
Kind of mundane, in the end. I think they could be spruced up a bit:
Bob snorted and said, “I don’t believe in zombies”―right before thirty of them emerged from the tunnel. Their favorite song was “Gangnam Style,” and they had spent weeks trying to learn the dance.
I’m envisioning a gaggle of K-pop-loving undead eager to come out to the world. They decide the best way to do so would be to put together a group choreography, maybe get it filmed and put online in the hopes it’ll go viral, so they work it out and practice and practice and practice, making sure to get all the steps just right. They even find the perfect rehearsal space—a cold, underground room off an abandoned tunnel, where they won’t disturb anyone or be disturbed themselves, and where decomposition will be limited. They work hard, and finally, after weeks, they’re ready to emerge and show the world what they’ve got. And then, when they do, what happens? People like Bob are stunned and everyone thinks there’s a zombie outbreak and panics.
Those poor, rotting souls.
I’m for the moment just posting this because I find it an interesting example of how a single artistic gesture can be used to greatly differing effect in two different works. (Not that this should be surprising; but it’s nice to see it done so well and so differently.)
Anyway, listen to the two songs below:
Hear the sigh each singer uses? How do they make you feel?
Of course, a sigh isn’t just a sigh, nor is it sighed in isolation. The musical context contributes heavily, creating the atmosphere that the sigh breathes. In the case of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”, it’s creepy and disturbing; even more so for the way it works with the whole song—thetremulous voice, the quiet, tender melody that worms into your head carrying the initially unremarkable and eventually deeply dark lyrics—to create something profoundly unsettling, and unsettlingly attractive.
Meanwhile, in Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”, there’s a hell of a lot of sex appeal. Buckley notably trims down the lyrics to focus almost exclusively on those pertaining to love and desire. And the inhalation at the beginning, as if Buckley had just been touched for the first time by a long-desired lover…
Even the most practiced writers make mistakes. Here’s one I found today, in Slashfilm’s piece “The 28 Best Movies of 2017 So Far“, in a section written by Ethan Anderton:
Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen, and most of them aren’t even worth that 10-cent piece when all is said and done.
Well, no, of course not. If they’re a dime a dozen, then one would be worth about eight tenths of a cent.
It’s a funny thing—I really enjoy writing persona poems—they’re a bit like acting—but I’m not tremendously excited about reading them. Or at least, I’m not any more excited about reading them than I am any other poem. Maybe even a little less, if I know in advance what it is. Does this have something to do with preconceived notions of pretentiousness? Fears of heavy-handedness? I don’t know. Pound wrote a whole book of ’em, and Pound, though intellectually brilliant, often fails to move me. (For one thing, I don’t like being obliged to do intense research to understand a poem. I feel a poem should work on me through language, not through arcane reference; and that if there is arcane reference, it should add to the experience but not be essential to it.)
Thus when I do write them, I try to make them poems first and persona poems second. The point of adopting a persona, for me, is to explore the experience of another character, to imagine what a given moment might have been like for him, her, or whatever. To that end, the poem should contain within its language everything absolutely necessary to present the experience to the reader, to move them. If I do it right, you should be able to read the poem and experience it, be moved, without needing to go looking for information outside of the text; but if you do, that should only deepen your encounter.
I’ve been thinking about this because the other day, I was browsing through poems from when I was at Sarah Lawrence and came across a handful of persona poems and demi-persona poems. I’ve got one from the POV of Joe in Angels in America, which imagines him confessing his internal struggles to his wife; one exploring what Hektor might have thought and felt in his last days at Troy; one about Odysseus beginning the journey home; one that is an apology from Prince Harry to Falstaff on how he treats his friend on becoming King Henry V; and more. I’ll post one or two soon so you can see.
A colleague of mine a couple of months ago turned me onto The Guardian’s pieces on how to write a novel in 30 days. Admittedly, their title is misleading (and mine might be, too), since the process they tout (created by XXX) really only (“only”) has you create a sort of very thorough and detailed outline that (they say) should practically count as a first draft, or at least make your first draft potentially your only draft.
But I started looking at the process, and I’m intrigued. As an experienced (but, silly me, practically unpublished) poet, I am familiar with, and comfortable, writing short pieces that I can revise in great detail ad infinitum, until they feel perfect. This procedure doesn’t really work for novel writing, though, and so I’ve become interested in various authors’ systems for getting their bigger stories down on the page. I’ve tried the Snowflake Method (helpful for me in some ways) and 5KWPH (which has dramatically improved my ability to ignore errors and let go of my tendency to tinker endlessly with the tiny details that might make or break a poem but would be of infinitesimal significance in a novel). Now I’m trying this one.
But here’s my idea: like others before me, I’m going to blog about my process. Maybe I won’t follow the method to the letter—I do have many other things to manage in my life—but I’ll follow it all the way through and talk about what I come up with. Maybe show you some cool things. And at the end, maybe I’ll have a novel!