Dealing with novel challenges is nothing new for A Drift of Quills. I know, you read the fabulous stories, and they’re just so darned good that you can’t put them down until you reach those last two words: “The End.”
Easy for you to say, Oh Gentle Reader! Behind the scenes though, you are quite likely to find an author contemplating murder, natural catastrophe, or even a lightning bolt from the heavens (is that natural?) to strike down a difficult plot problem. And those suckers pop up when you least expect them, whether you plot carefully or write with wild and careless abandon.
So here’s the question of the day: What has been the biggest writing challenge with our current novel?
Novel Challenges? Do Your Worst!
My experiences in the novel-writing game are relatively few, but so far, every novel has posed at least one challenge. I’m not talking about the Usual Life Challenge that pops up every time you choose a cool project and Things Happen. Like the furnace goes out, or you get the flu, or you remember at the last minute that a Quills Post is due tomorrow… No, I’m talking about novel-specific snags and pitfalls. Like the Beisyth Web in As the Crow Flies, or the (top secret now) timeline issues in Flesh and Bone.
Welcome to A Drift of Quills, and today’s fun topic of “Book Spine Poetry.” This form of literature is pretty simple, and we’re excited about simple this month. Book spine poetry is a kind of “found” art. First, you need books. Start with one or two that spark your interest. As you stack them up, swap them around until they create a poem or a poetic “story.” The limitations encourage creativity, and we love creativity!
My taste in poetry is questionable.
I gravitate toward freeform (usually only my own—how arrogant!), the unusual (sample below), or limericks and “revised” song lyrics (for which I blame my husband).
In my teens I went through an angsty period where I wrote reams of freeform poetry, 98% of which were terrible. Wrist to forehead dramatically, I determined I would make my living as a moody poet. Until I discovered a) how bad I was and b) how difficult that career choice actually was. I like food far too much to take up life as a Starving Artist.
Dr. Seuss might have had some influence on my choices of “unusual” poetry. I liked the silliness then, and I still do. So I find myself tickled by such things as “The Song of Milkanwatha,” by Marc Anthony Henderson, a parody of Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha.” And I love the dubious humor of Ogden Nash:
I don’t mind eels. Except as meals, And the way they feels…
Limericks are easy to like, and easy to have fun with, though I prefer the non-bawdy variety. There are such things, yanno! Trivial detail for you: limericks are said to have derived from the chorus ‘will you come up to Limerick?’, sung between improvised verses at gatherings. “Improvised” is the key word here, and segues well into the “revised song lyric” category.
My wonderful, funny husband is always changing up the lyrics to songs to suit the occasion. His most often misused song is probably the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies television show, but he is perfectly willing and able to exercise his (really questionable) talents with any other song in the universe. He discovered early on in our marriage that it was nearly impossible for me to stay angry at him when he sang silliness at me.
Now that we’ve established that serious poetry is not my forte, I present you with my latest attempt at book spine poetry:
There is something Freudian involved here, I’m sure. It turns out that I used two of the same books that appeared in my lastbook spine poetry exercise. I assure you, it was unintentional. Please feel free to translate what you think this means; I’d be interested to know!
These days, as I’m wrapping up my latest work, I’m realizing how much of what I write is intended for—is directed specifically at and to—young women. While I’m certainly old enough, I have no grandchildren of my own. I’m finding, however, that the grandmother in me is coming out anyway. She comes via my life as an author, and my granddaughters include… (Read more!)
Poetry pushes us to the limit of our understanding – to the edge of ourselves. That’s why it can be so chaotic and disorienting, but it can also be where we learn something new. Something that we couldn’t have known before, had we not been challenged.
But the challenge of poetry is a soft one. A gentle breeze that carries us beyond, to a new place, and then brings us back, changed. Because when you learn something, you change. You become something new. The old has died…
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We’d love to have you join us in our poetry-making. Post your family-friendly photos below in the comments!