Saturday, November 19, 2016

Children's Writers Notebook

This is how "off" I am lately.  I started this post yesterday, but never published it.  I was so tired and unmotivated!  I am putting it up today regardless of the fact that it is Saturday now. I was sick last week, and thought I was getting better last Sunday.  Guess I tried to pretend too long and too hard, because now I'm sick again - or still.  There is actually a poem on this page.  After you get through my fog you'll come to the dog...

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It's Poetry Friday.  I've not been as "on" lately as in the past.  Seems like I have "stuff to do" all the time.  But I'm giving it a go today, although I am late.

Last week I went to Barnes & Noble just to browse, and I came upon this book (actually I found 2 books, but I haven't started the second one).
The book is called Children's Writer's Notebook and features 20 Great Authors & 70 Writing Exercises, by Wes Magee, published by Metro Books in NY and somehow also affiliated with Quid Publishing in England.  At any rate, that, for me, is not the important part.
The important part for me is that it "saved" my writing drought - or what I see as a drought.
I have written some, but not much since the middle of October, feeling like I want to write something that has not gelled yet.  Heck, it hasn't even been a liquid thought yet.  There is just something there that I can't start - because I don't have the foggiest notion of what it is.

I started NaNoWriMo, thinking maybe just the nudge there would be what it took to start.  I started and restarted and started yet again,  Nothing sounded like it had anywhere to go.  I was stuck with a place or a character who didn't know what they wanted to do in life...or my story.

Then I found this book.
And I've been writing in it.  
And I've been extending it to documents because a page in a book isn't enough room sometimes.  And it gets messy - but I like messy when I'm writing and I miss that on the computer.
Sometimes it isn't what the prompt was exactly about.  Wow!  That one was hard for me to deal with.  When asked to write about one thing and then taking off on another version of the prompt felt like cheating, until I lectured myself about how these were not being "graded" by anyone, and that there was no one who cared that you didn't write to the prompt exactly.  The goal was to write  s o m e t h i n g - A N Y T H I N G !!
I also came up with the realization that most of my writing transformed into poetry as I wrote. This WAS NOT what I had in mind.  Then I stopped writing in it.  I was now at a crossroads - again.  Would I keep writing and letting the poems keep happening, or would I try to write prose to hopefully develop part of a story as I had planned.

I have to think about this.  Or I have to NOT think about this and just DO whatever happens.

I think it is time to go back to my book and just do whatever comes out of me.  Crud.  I'd hoped to find my story I was looking for.

Till then, here's one bit of writing that came out of the practice:
Challenge #3 Write about a dog doing silly things on its walk. Four lines with a rhyme scheme ABCB with syllable count: 5, 6, 5, 6
So I wrote this.  It is not great, but it is something.  I've messed with it a bit more in typing it here.  This is one of the examples of really not sticking with the plan.  The dog was supposed to be doing silly things on its walk - but I just stuck with one focus really.  Since a writing challenge is supposed to get you thinking and writing, I guess it is okay. 

Bark

Sniff, sniff! Round the tree
Dog sniffs, then he harkens,
"That's my bark," he says;
His furry face darkens.

He scratches his head,
Puts a paw to his chin;
How did it get there?
His poor head starts to spin!

"My bark stuck like glue
Up the sides of this trunk
Must be brought back down
Or my bark will be sunk!"

Then Dog spies a cat
Whom he chases with glee
Right up to the tip
At the top of the tree

There the cat trembles;
As she shivers and shakes
The bark becomes loose,
And that's all that it takes.

The bark starts to drop
Where below on the ground
Dog scoops up bark chips
Putting bark in a mound.

Dog looks at the pile
Smiles and smacks his long lips
Then eats them all up
With two kinds of chip dips.

Dog with full tummy  
His bark safely inside
Sniffs at the tree trunk
Then embarks with great pride.

Dog is now happy,
Though the tree is quite bare,
As a trembling cat
Now shakes leaves down from there.

I wonder if this
Is how autumn began
With dog bark, scared cat,
And a tree shaking plan.


Notes: There are a few things I wanted kids to "get" or learn when I wrote this. (No, that's maybe not true - I never set out to "teach" something with a poem.  The poem just happens and then I see what all is in there most of the time!)  First the obvious three meanings of bark - tree, dog and ocean vessel (which kids around here are more likely to hear since we are a historic shipbuilding area).  Embarking was a fun word to put in there... and of course the phrase "barking up the wrong tree" would have to be worked into the poem.  And no poem party would be complete without chips and dip.

Okay, now I have to get back to my challenge/inspiration book... I have a cold/flu/fuzzyhead right now, so my current challenge is looking like a cup of tea and my inspiration is going to have to be Netflix or Hulu!

And you need to go visit Michelle Barnes' site to see about that anthology of hers, and to visit our hostess, Brenda Davis Harsham, at Friendly Fairy Tales to read more poetry today and all week!