Sunday, December 03, 2006

Janis Cooke Newman shares ten things she knows about writing. I particularly like the second item on her list:

2) Every scene has a mood, and everything in that scene should contribute to that mood. Just as in poetry, where each word counts, each sensory detail, description, and image should work to evoke the mood you intend. Nothing you put in a scene should be arbitrary — every word should count towards creating the overall tone.
Yes (although these issues come in to the picture during revision for me, not during the initial writing, when I am usually not very conscious of what I'm doing). I am not sure how I feel about the next item on her list, which talks about manipulating the reader's emotions. I try not to think of the reader as I write. I try to not have an agenda or be manipulative in any way (although I often do feel manipulated by my characters--they toss me all over the place.) I am in awe of writers who have a handle on the tone and effect of their work; it tends to be a big mysterious mush for me.

I still haven't read Newman's book, Mary. I am very eager to do so.

For another perspective on writing, here is an Author's Prayer from Ilya Kaminsky. I especially love these lines:

I must write the same poem over and over
for the empty page is a white flag of their surrender.

If I speak of them, I must walk
on the edge of myself, I must live as a blind man

who runs through the rooms without
touching the furniture
I went to my montly poetry group tonight. I love meeting with this group of poet women--all of them are so talented and insightful and fun to hang out with. One woman, Lavina Blossom (an amazing name, yes?) shared a prose poem that holds one of the greatest sentences I've read in a long time: "As for me, I seemed to be slipping into something comfortable that felt like infinity."

That's how reading and writing often feel to me, like slipping into something comfortable that feels like infinity.

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