As I learn more about writing prose and learn to more consciously apply things like structure to writing, I’ve found that my writing has lost some of its rawness. When I first experimented with writing more than five years ago now, I would start with a burst of inspiration or a strong emotional experience. Seizing on this, I would sit down at my computer and write whatever came to mind. There was no prior preparation, no planning. Thoughts and feelings would be messily converted into words and set down on the page. Snow is a good example of this. I wrote this in one sitting, all the way back in 2013. When Snow was published in the Writer’s Drawer Print Anthology, one of the comments on it was “I’m not sure if this is even a story.” The commenter was right. Snow is a snapshot of what I was feeling when I wrote it. This is great for venting feelings, but it doesn’t make a good story – there’s no narrative structure, no character arc, no real message. If my goal is to write short stories and novels, I need to be more measured and purposeful.
I subconsciously realised this a few years ago, and attempted to make my writing more structured without explicitly knowing what I was doing. It was only a few months ago that I fully understood that I was starting to reach the limits of self-training. I know what I want to do (write good stories), but I lack crucial insight into how to do it consistently. This year I’ve started taking concrete steps in remedying this, and the stories I’m working on now have already benefited.
This does mean, however, that I cannot just pour my brain onto paper and call the result a story. Of course editing will be required after the first draft is written (and the second, and the third…), but what goes into each draft must also be intentional – not every idea that comes into my head is a good one, and whilst I knew this already, I’m consciously thinking about it whenever I now write. So, what my prose has potentially lost in closeness to my bare thoughts, it will more than make up for in purpose and clarity. Improvement.
There are times, however, when I still do that soul-to-paper distillation, and the poem below is one of those. Undoubtedly, good poetry is just as calculated and careful as prose, but I find I can more easily express my instantaneous thoughts without reservation in a poem. Those snapshots of mind work better for me in that format.
This brings me to the last point: this blog itself. When I started it, I intended it to be a “professional” blog, or what I thought a professional blog had to be. I don’t have many posts on here, but some of them, like my review of the Earthsea series, try a little too hard and as a result come across as a bit artificial. I’m going to keep it a bit more real from now on, so here’s a poem that’s 100% real to finish off.
Fence on which a planet sits
Goddess gazing from above
Tingling surface, teeming whits:
“Must see power, not just love”
Bitter champion hunts in fray
“Love you, Goddess, you’re my foe”
Sights through scope to wish away
Fleeting happy, crushing throe
Hunters rest, the champion breaks
Clings to faith but drinkers laugh:
“Evil sickness, killing quakes”
Denies her now on their behalf
Goddess cries then, streaming rain
Thunder, power in her sobs
Turns the stars with sorrow, strain
Thankless mission never stops