#AprilPrompts Day 6 – Growing

When you hear the word growing, most people would automatically think of plants, flowers, vegetables et al. But I’m a writer, so when I hear a word, my mind goes off in a different direction . . .

Growing

Day 6 - Growing

Day 6 – Growing

It’s funny how life changes in a relatively short space of time and you grow into someone more than you envisioned yourself to be.

Two and a half years ago, if someone had said to me that in the next thirty months I would publish a book, have written a second, co-written and edited an anthology, be running a writing group and be a professional editor, I probably would have suggested they visit a shrink. Yet it’s exactly what DID happen!

Since completing Heart Search: Lost, I’ve worked hard to hone my craft and I’ve learned heaps (although I know I still have plenty more to learn). I feel I’ve grown as a writer and am still growing.

Being able to express my emotions through creativity is very cathartic. It has empowered me to move forward from the traumas of my past and embrace a new future as a writer and editor.

As I continue to grow, my writing becomes better, which ultimately, is good news for my readers, and me.

growing1

 

Reflections

First off – Happy New Year to you all. I wish you health, happiness and success in all your endeavours.

looking back

 

In the first few days of a new year, most people are making resolutions and setting goals, and whilst I do that, I also take some time to reflect on the year just passed and ask myself some questions:

 

What was my biggest trial during 2012?

This would have to be the major problem with my spine. The first signs appeared mid-February, but by the third week in April, it had deteriorated to the extent I could no longer work, drive my car, dance, sit for longer than half an hour, stand for more than fifteen minutes, bend, and needed a stick to help me walk. Suddenly I was taking medication by the handful (or that’s how it seemed); muscle relaxants, pain killers, anti-inflamatories and nerve blockers were thrown down my neck in the vain hope they would take the pain away. Yeah, they took the edge off, but that was about it. The doctor could have given me stronger tablets, but I really didn’t want to become a barely-functioning zombie.

There were two things which helped me through this nightmare (until I had surgery at the end of September) – my daughter and my writing. It was because of both I refused the more powerful drugs. My writing and editing work kept me sane; in my writing I was able to immerse myself in the world I was creating, and in between I had the honour of editing fantastic novels by Connie J Jasperson, Johanna Garth, Alison DeLuca and Nicole Antonia Carson; Johanna’s (Losing Hope), Alison’s (Crown Phoenix: Lamplighter’s Special) and Nicole’s (Yum) are already available, and Connie’s (Forbidden Road) is due to be published within the next couple of months. In the rare times I wasn’t writing or editing, my lovely daughter kept my spirits up.

What was my biggest achievement?

Without a doubt, the publication of Heart Search: Lost through Myrrdin Publishing Group. The joy I felt seeing it up on Amazon for the very first time was indescribable; I still get a buzz from it three months after the launch! When the paperback arrived, I turned it over and over in my hands, scarcely able to believe my dream of publishing a book had come true, especially after the difficult time I had trying to get it written in the first place.

What was my greatest challenge?

I think this would have to be organising and running the blog tour to celebrate the launch of Heart Search: Lost. I’d never done one before so was feeling my way with it a bit, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. I also wanted to combine the tour with a giveaway, so had to choose and design the items too. I wanted each participating blog to have original guest posts and excerpts – if people were kind enough to support my launch, the very least I could do was ensure they had exclusive pieces to share with their followers.

I had some wonderful people supporting me on the tour, a number of which have become dear friends as a result. The fact that the tour began just ten days after the surgery on my spine, when I could only sit for 10-15 minutes at a time, increased the challenge. I had 17 guest posts to write, 14 interviews, and to pick out 20 suitable excerpts. Add this to the actual administration of the tour, the launch itself and all the requisite publicity, it would be fair to say it was a challenge I wondered if I could rise to. I managed it, somehow, mainly by ignoring doctor’s orders and sitting for longer than I should have done!

What was unexpected?

Finding myself holding the reins of a writers group! I had only been a member of Writebulb for about four months when the leader and last remaining founder had to bow out. It had taken me quite a while to find a group I was happy in and I didn’t want to see it close. I volunteered to take over and have been running Writebulb ever since.

I’m proud of the achievements of the group since I took over. Apart from myself, others have published their work for the first time and collectively we published a charity anthology, The Other Way Is Essex, to raise money for our local hospice.

What surprised me the most?

People! To be more specific, how wonderfully supportive my fellow authors, bloggers, followers and readers were. Every member of Myrrdin Publishing were incredible and I’ve found some wonderful new friends as well as very talented authors. The Heart Search Blog Tour crew were all fantastic, most going out of their way to help publicise all the activities/posts/reviews etc as well as their own and offering me loads of encouragement. My fellow writers at Writebulb have been responsive and supportive of my leadership and ideas. Last, but by no means least, my wonderful readers who have given me such fabulous feedback on my debut novel.

What have I learned?

Loads! I’ve learned to stare adversity in the face and find a coping mechanism to deal with pain (admitedly doing something I love and would have done anyway, but still . . .). I’ve been honing my craft, trying to improve my writing, so as to give my readers better quality stories to enjoy. I’ve learned how wonderfully supportive other authors and my blog and social media followers are. Finally, although I’ve been writing since I was a child, I’ve come to realise it’s a much bigger part of my life than I ever expected and I can never stop doing what I love so much!

 

 

Modern Poetry: What Makes a Good Poem Great

I’ve always liked poetry and have even written a few in my time. Today I’m excited to welcome back Maria Johnson, who has written a fabulous article on Modern Poetry for you. Enjoy!

How do you write a good poem these days? Always before there were rules that needed to be followed; a strict meter, a defined stanza length, a set rhyming pattern, and the poems seemed to contain more of a narrative. These days everything is the opposite. Rhyming is frowned upon, and stanzas have become loose; writer-defined lengths and meters. I struggled with this once. After reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost in University, I decided to try writing my own version of the fall from grace in a more modern style, yet keeping the original perspective – Satan. Here is stanza 2 from a poem that takes just over 2 pages.

 

My eyes swept across the land, encompassing

The outer edges of Paradise, and

The band of Cherubim guarding the gates.

I leapt off the mountain, landing gracefully

At the Western edge of Paradise, my six

Wings flaring as I bounded over the wall

Of rock at its lowest point.

The sun shone down at its zenith, bathing

The land in its warm glow, turning

Everything a glittering green-yellow as

It filtered through the foliage of the trees.

I walked past the roses, red as fresh blood,

Refusing to inhale their heady scent,

Past the trees which lie at the centre

Of that garden, the smell of one so familiar,

The scent of home, the apples of Heaven,

The Fruit of Life, my heart ached at

That fragrance, and I grew cold.

 

This is a bad example of modern poetry. There is too much narrative going on here, and it reads like prose cut up into lines. Prose can be a good place to start, to get the idea in your head if you struggle to write poetry, but you don’t want to be bound by this early attempt. It is also too literal, poems these days have hidden meanings; you don’t want to spell it out for the reader, you want them to discover the meaning for themselves – that way it means more to them since everyone will read a piece slightly differently. Also you never want to start a modern poem with capital letters. In a modern poem, capital letters follow the prose rules; they are for the first line only, unless you have a full stop in which case you have one on the next word.

I gave the poem another attempt, this time disguising the theme of Original Sin within a modern setting.

 

The path glittered beside us

yellow, green as we lay

on a bed of pine needles.

My blood pumped hard

through my adolescent body.

I caressed her strong muscled thigh

in the late afternoon sunshine.

 

The plucked red rose

rested on her bosom,

blood petals strewn around her.

She inhaled its heady scent;

enchanter of the woods.

 

The apple from the hidden tree

lay discarded and broken.

 

Need to return her home,

past Sunday curfew,

she just lies there free

from the rules of society.

 

My lips brush this unadorned Venus,

savour the taste

of that apple on my lips

and wish I could have it

once more.

 

This is a good example of a modern poem. There are only capital letters at the beginning and after a full stop, the stanza length is uneven – specified by the poem and the individual sections, and the meaning is slightly veiled. There is still a narrative here – which I think is needed, though not everyone will agree – but it no longer reads like chopped-up prose. The trick to modern poetry is in the images. Do not tell the story, show it to them and let them work it out for themselves. Do not tell them “She lost her virginity”, show them “The plucked red rose/ rested on her bosom, /blood petals strewn around her.”

Although I updated the setting of this poem, I still kept the integral parts of Paradise in there. They are still surrounded by nature, there is still a hidden tree with an apple; however these have become symbols and the apple, as it always has, represents her innocence and her virginity. You need to try and find new images to show something which is why I used the image of the rose. Yet this is a double meaning line, many people will read it simply as a rose, so I included the short stanza below with more traditional imagery to reinforce the message “The apple from the hidden tree/lay discarded and broken.”

Each poem will be unique. Don’t try to force it into a mould, let the mould flow around it. Each of my stanzas are determined by the imagery, the sections of the narrative. I did not decide in advance what the format would be; I told the story and let it fall where it was meant to.

 

WOW! Thank you, Maria. This really does show how modern poetry can be interpreted in imaginative ways.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you love it? Hate it? Does this make you want to explore the creativity of it? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Maria Johnson has a BA Honours Degree in English & Creative Writing. She was nominated for International Young Poet of the Year in 2008 while still at university and has had her work published in an anthology. These days, she’s a freelance editor and proof reader and writes when she finds time.

Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Maria7627

If you’re looking for a great editor or proof reader, contact her here: maria7627 AT hotmail DOT com