Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On Skin and Bone and the only way I know how

When I took my first creative writing class at UVU, I was terrified of poetry. Not of reading it, but of writing it. Every single time that I tried to write a poem, it didn't work. It was pretentious and hollow and a great example of why many many people across the world hate verse.

And I finally realized why it didn't work.

It was because I sat down with the intention of writing a poem. I wasn't trying to convey something, I wasn't just writing to see where it went, I sat down and I tried to vomit a poem out of my pink ball point pen on my first attempt, which is incredibly stupid of me, if not widely ambitious.

Now, if I happen to write something that I think just might be a poem in the works, I start formatting it into something else, but it always starts as a free write, or a random train of thought.

As an example to you, here is a random thought that I wrote down in my journal and later made into a poem called "Skin and Bone."

The images I recall of you do no justice to the shape of your eyes or the curve of your shoulders. They are specters of reality doomed to live their days with the knowledge that they cannot ever compete with you. There is little wonder why they look so sad in my mind, constantly betraying the light in your eyes as they ache for your flesh with a hunger that has been building up for centuries. A force that would conquer those that have not paved their days with silken stars, as we have, and that do not marvel at the congruity of life, as we do, and that do not believe with unimaginable certainty that our lives are tidal, as we will. I will never let them take you, as long as I can see the trees for what they truly are, and as long as you swear to never leave the space between my skin and bone.

After several, several rewrites, here is the final version of the poem: 

Skin and Bone

Together, we slay fear with freckled cheeks
and the days we’ve paved with silken stars.
Specters of today and tomorrow and now
fall under the power of our tidal hearts
and your 5 o’ clock shadow
and the space between my skin and bone
where I feel your magic (which knows no proximity)
and I keep your eyes in a jar
made of the picture perfect lives we’ve lived.
I swear (on blood and breath) to keep you
and you whisper me back that age old spell
and somehow we’ve become giants
standing beside a mountain
that is not as tall as you or I
and I feel the trueness of your body
and the congruity of us
as we build a fortress to keep our dreams.

Even rewriting this in here just now makes me want to make a few more alterations, take it in or let it out a bit to fit my ideas.

And that is the only way that I know how to do it. 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

On petition: Cliches in Young Adult Lit I want to ban forever

I am tired, (oh so tired), of reading young adult novels that feature the same plot devices, the same turns of phrase, the same character shells. I think that what writers of young adult fiction provide their readers should be better than these trite euphemisms. I believe in something better.

I thereby swear as an aspiring writer of young adult fiction to never EVER contribute to the following cliches. If I do commit one of these crimes, please feel free to burn me alive.

1. Characters That Cup Each Other's Faces:
This is one of the things that I hate the most about any novel, not just young adult. I hate that every hero cups the heroine's face in his hands before he delivers that tingling, life-changing kiss. I hate it!!

2. The Unexpected / Undesired Class Partner:
I swear, there has got to be another way for the author to throw two high school students together, even if they are complete opposites. Even if one of them is an alien and flies up to outer space after school everyday. From the amount of unexpected partnerships that I read about, you'd think that every single day in high school would feature that dreaded partner-project, but no. They don't. I also hate this one something fierce.

3. The Overreaction / Damsel In Distress:
How many people (please raise your hands) remember reading about a heroine that consistently feels weak in the knees (I have NEVER felt this before, personally), falls over due to emotional trauma (does being surprised or sad affect your balance?), or simply faints/falls/throws up for no reason? How many people have had these things happen in real life, and if you have, was there every a gorgeous guy there to pick you up? (Suddenly his arms were around me, supporting me, SWOON! [gag]) Never. Most likely, even your current boyfriend / husband / significant other would try to get away from your projectile vomit... at least at first.

4. The Sudden / Inexplicable Urge To Touch Someone You Barely Know:
This one is so overused. I even catch myself almost writing it into my current work-in-progress. Sometimes, I think bad books are forging neural pathways in my brain that I don't know if I can undo. ANYWAY, why is the main character always compelled to touch a person that they barely know? In high school, I never had an urge to caress the hot guy I had a crush on, (well, maybe in my dreams), because he would think I was crazy, and he would be right. There has got to be a better way to explain an attraction / fascination with someone's appearance!

Although you may think that I am unaware of the fact that I am just comparing these YA characters with myself, (which is probably a high-form of narcissism, but I'm choosing to ignore that for now), I am most certainly aware of it!

I only do so in order to explain that if I feel so cut-off from these characters, so turned off by their overused mannerisms, so tired of their cheesy dialogue, than aren't many other readers going to feel the same way?

I almost feel like any YA author--current or aspiring--should take every first instinct that they have for dialogue, setting, and plot, and throw it completely out the window. They should throw their second thoughts out the window, too. The third thoughts can stay. This will become the new YA. The better YA.

Just a thought.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On paper: A poem I wrote just now

I think
that I might be
a little bit
(just a little bit)
like a ritual
that nobody
understands anymore.
A dead tradition
that carries on
to haunt
the living
with its
passes it off
as myth
or legend
which makes them
a little
(just a little)
But those who know
the truth
of it
shy away
from the lies
that keep others
They pack up
of themselves
into nicely
for this purpose
and they wait
and wait
for someone
to unpack them.