I’ve been learning a lot about writing poetry lately and have set myself a challenge of composing one a week. It is quite a different process to writing a novel!
While writing a novel is a bit like having a movie running in my head, a poem is very different. It’s not even like a still photo. It’s smaller and more refined even than that. It’s capturing a moment or a feeling and distilling it down to just a scent or a colour and then showing that with words.
I have found it very hard work and have very few poems where I can sit back and go “that’s it” yet.
Writing this has reminded me that my first book Mind over Matter started with a poem and developed into a book. I wonder if any of the poems I have now will do that!
When Mind Over Matter was being published my publisher asked me to write a poem to start the second act. I had about 24 hours before the book went to the printers. Talk about pressure!
I was very pleased with the poem that bubbled up to introduce Glia.:
In Hadal zones where light won’t reach
where darkness starts
where eyes don’t seek
where particles and tiny specks
mingle in the murky deep
came the beginning of something new.
A scratch, a twirl,
a pearl, it grew.
A treasure hidden.
We never knew.
Do you write poems?
Imagine that you could only own fifty items in total.
You’d need quite a few clothes, shoes, a backpack, a toothbrush, dishes and cutlery, a mug, two towels, a bed with sheets, pillow and blankets, a chair and a few other essentials. So after all that was counted you’d only be able to own five or so personal choice items. What would they be?
The reason I’m asking is because this is a situation in a book I’m writing. I want to know if I’ve got it more or less right.
Try counting everything you own!
I’ve been in a really interesting reversal- of- role situation lately. As a teacher I encourage my students to read out their writing. “After all,” I say, “Writing exists for readers. It calls out to be shared!” But now I’m the pupil my thoughts are a bit different!
I’m taking poetry classes and a few weeks ago it took a lot of courage for me to share some of my poems. I felt my intestines twist up and my heart beat extra fast as I waited my turn. I read way too fast in my haste to get it over with. Then everyone started to give me feedback. Some laughed, some picked out words or phrases they liked and then…( insert Jaws movie soundtrack) …some of them challenged my choices and asked questions. “What did I mean by….?” ‘Why did I choose to …?”
I had to whisper to myself that it didn’t mean they hated my work, that it was help. They made me really think about what I’d written and how I could make changes to improve it. It wasn’t easy though. Just as it isn’t easy sending away your writing to a publisher who very politely turns you down. I’ve decided that’s not a reason to stop writing, only a hint to keep getting better at it.
So to my pupils, I’m not taking the pressure off you to share what you’ve written because it’s for your own good. Also because I love hearing what kids write and I get so many ideas from you!
Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fabled institution where they become fairytale heroes or villains. Sophie, the most beautiful girl in town, has always dreamed of her place at the School for Good while her friend Agatha, with her dark disposition seems destined for the School for Evil. But when the two are kidnapped they find their fortunes reversed
Reserve your copy of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani at your library now