Chapter and Verse
Posted by Keen Observer on February 12, 2012
I feel an odd inclination to write about writing, since I’ve been doing so much of it lately. I have a nascent writer’s gene in me somewhere, because when I write, it seems to be because of some sort of internal pressure–which is sometimes caused by reaction to an external stimulus.
I don’t edit a lot when I write, unfortunately. It tends to bog me down. But on the flip-side, I generally don’t have to. Prose comes exceedingly easy to me. I just get an idea in my head, and it wants to come out. I can write and write and write, until enough of what was in my head escapes through my fingers to ease the pressure to write more. Occasionally, I go beyond that to actually finish whatever it was I started. I can completely understand the witticism that “writers write”, because when the mood is on me, it’s hard to stop, even if nothing publicly-viewable comes from it. It has almost always been like this for me, too. Writing papers in high school and university was difficult only in terms of amassing the background I needed to compose the analysis required by the instructor. I almost always went from rough notes to a finished product, but that could sometimes result in sometimes not getting my analysis quite “correct” (that it was my deficiency rather than the professors’ may be up for debate). Being able to move to a word processor from a typewriter removed a lot of frustration from my process.
Poetry is different for me. I would never call myself a poet, but I dabble (I’m a writer who occasionally writes in verse). I sometimes get flashes of poetic insight, but I seem to be almost solely dependent on some sort of inspirational muse to be able to craft verses. My poetry tends to the very specific and fails in most cases without some knowledge of the subject on the reader’s part. And with poetry, of course, a reader may see things in it different from what I intended while writing it.
I used the term “craft” advisedly. Each poem I write is work. Notwithstanding the original inspiration, however great it might be, it takes me as much effort to write a 20-verse poem as it does to write 1000 words of prose, with very few exceptions. I work almost exclusively in free verse, which may make things harder on me, but I find other forms too restrictive for my ideas and visualisations. I occasionally have created sonnets or haiku, or short rhyming schemes, but for the most part, I prefer the liberty that comes with free verse. My poems are intensely personal, and their subject matter tends to be pretty focused, so free verse generally works better for me, when I start wrestling with the concepts trying to express themselves through me. Where I share this with my prose is in terms of taking longer to write than I otherwise should, simply because I’m trying to make sure that the words that end up being read are the ones I intended to be read: I search for the perfect word or phrase I wish to convey my thoughts most correctly/accurately/succinctly/etc etc.
I tell you this not to brag about my writing skills, but just as a reference should I decide to add poetry to my blog at some point in the future, because each one will have taken me a lot more work than anything else I might post on here. I don’t want readers to think that I can just whip one out and show it off as easily as I can with anything else I write, and so I attempt to manage expectations.
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