Poetry Overlords Mk II

Since my last blog entry, I’ve been stuck exploring the intriguing comparisons between poetry and music. I don’t know why, but I just am! And if you haven’t jumped on the “Follow UncannyDerek on Twitter” bandwagon, you’re missing out. Sort of.

Here’s the TL;DR version from my last blog:

Reading poetry out loud is a lot like performing music.

New Thoughts. Little. Yellow. Different.

Now what?

This next part is going to stir some debate, I’m sure, but try to follow me here.

As a musician, I personally find that with music I could record absolutely anything and put it out to the public. I could guarantee it would be understood and appreciated by people.

Take for examples, Fantômas – Suspended Animation (2005) or Devin Townsend – Devlab (2004). Both albums are ambient noise and rather chaotic to the listener. But I really enjoy both albums. There’s no real “sense” to each album and they’re both dramatically different from one another. For the average listener though, there’s no real construct or sense to them. For the most part, I’d confidently say that many people would dislike those albums.

Breaking down the instruments and themes, sure, one could find the inspiration and technicalities built within the albums. That being said, both albums can be difficult to listen all of the way through.

So, Poetry?

Right! So, this is where things get debate-y.

As I said, with music, it could get published despite how normal or bizarre it sounds (as with my examples found above). There’s an audience for everything in music. But with poetry and literature? I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Sure there’s an audience for everyone, but. . . well let me explain.

There is a certain “universal standard,” per se, that is set with literature in which I think music is removed from. Due to “rules” in literature, a missing period could make or break a sentence. Paragraphs can’t be scattered too far as it could confuse the reader. The lack of capitalization could misplace titles or nouns. I could go on.

Now hold on a second because I know you’re already beginning to think of counter-arguments to mine. That’s good, because I had them too.

Let me yank out a few popular lines from Gertrude Stein’s Sacred Emily which appeared in Geography and Plays (1922).

Color mahogany.
Color mahogany center.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters.
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Page ages page ages page ages.

So to start: this is a Canadian blog and she spelled “colour” wrong.

Okay, I’m kidding. But we can see – as readers – how some of the lines, when they are read individually, seem like incomplete thoughts. The final line, “Page ages,” is repetitive and has no commas. It looks strange to the reader and requires some attention when performing it out loud. Should “Color mahogany” have a colon to read “Color: mahogany”?

While Stein’s poem can fit under the same category as the Fantômas and Devin Townsend albums posted above, I feel it is much harder to cater to a literary audience than a musical one due to what some could say “universal standards” put in place with reading.

Someone listening to an album can (mostly) understand when they hear guitar, drums, saxophone, trumpets, piano, or vocals.
But when someone reads or performs poetry, grammar and understanding can get lost in translation.

To ALMOST Conclude

I can play a guitar solo – regardless how awful it would be – but people would still understand it as a guitar solo.

I can perform poetry – regardless how chaotic it would be – but people would have a difficult time understanding it.

With these “universal standards” put in place with reading, such as periods needing to come at the end of sentences, I feel many readers and listeners to poetry may just miss the point. As someone who goes to poetry readings, I often get scoffed at when telling people I’m going. Is it because they think poetry is pretentious, or is it because they simply don’t understand it? Would a “universal standard” to poetry help? Is there even a way to create such a thing?

There’s nothing really conclusive here. It’s more meant to stir the pot and flesh out more ideas.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Novel: Completed!

I’ve been off of here for the past while because I’ve been a bit busy! As the title suggests, yes! I’ve finished my novel!

After multiple versions with my own “NaNoWriMo,” many of cups of tea, hundreds of albums listened to, and pumping over 15,000 words in the past two days, I finally completed the story last night around 11:30pm.

It seemed like a long journey, but it really was not all that bad. I was able to say what I had to say in the story and hit all of my plot points with ease.

Was it relieving to type “The End?”

Yes and no. I was grinning wildly when I finished the book, but I had just done over ten hours of writing that day. I was pretty tired.

What’s next?

Well, I’ve never published a book before, so I’ll have to really work on studying how that system all operates.

I definitely need to take the time and hard edit the entire story. There’s a lot of little things I knew about when writing that I had to go back and fix, but I left it until the end. I wanted the skeleton of the story done first, followed by my editing to fix up the rest.

Then I’ll need test readers. I have a lot of friends who I went to University with for English. They’ll be the first on the docket to get the story. I’ll pass the early draft on to some friends and family of varying ages as well to see how the different audiences like it.

Once completed, I’ll go back to editing!

When the corrections are made, I’ll probably send it off to an editor to get looked at – maybe that would be the last edit? I don’t know!

And finally, I’ll move on to publishing.

I still have a long while ahead of me, but I’ll definitely get it sorted all out. I do not have a deadline exactly in mind yet, but I’m sure I’ll find one when I figure out how the publishing aspect works.

Thanks you kindly for reading and your many words of support over the past year. I’ll be back soon with some updates on how editing works!

Ah, the joys of being a writer.

And Happy Halloween!

The Inevitable Death Scene

As a writer, I just had my first experience with killing off a main character.

I hadn’t expected it to go as smoothly as it did. I had planned on this particular characters death since first planning the novel – so it wasn’t unexpected. However, I thought it’d be a bit more dramatic, at least for me.

Why?

Well, I’ve spent countless hours building and creating a world with these characters to live and relate in. . . only for a main character to die. It’s like watching Return of the Jedi, knowing Yoda’s about to kick it. Or watching The Land Before Time and waiting on the inevitable death of Littlefoot’s mother. (I’m sorry I brought that one up! It still gets to me as well!)

I figured it’d be a lot more difficult writing the death scene. Saying “goodbye” to someone I’ve spent the past year having run around in my head. As it turns out, it wasn’t a big deal at all!

I’ll ask again: why?


I wonder if Yoda’s death scene was hard to write? It probably wasn’t! He was only a puppet! I wrote about a real, fictional human!

Damned if I know! Maybe authors aren’t supposed to feel so attached to their characters? Was I a lucky one? Perhaps I became desensitized to knowing the death was going to happen? Maybe I’m happy the character is dead?

Or maybe I wrote the death so poorly it wasn’t emotional enough?

. . . Oh, crap! What if my whole story was written poorly?! WHAT IF IT ALL SUCKS?!

BRB. Gotta re-organize my life.

VIOLENCE!

Screaming “Violence!” seems like such a weird thing to say.

But that’s not what this is about.

Since the early stages of writing my story, I found that my action scenes are more “gorier” than I had anticipated. Let me go back a bit here:

I have always enjoyed science-fiction and horror. Movies, books, action figures – whatever. I’m fairly desensitized except for a few things I do not agree on (which is a different post all together), so I look at gore and think “Cool!” rather than “Ew!”

The nature of my novel is pretty adult. There isn’t much foul language in it, nor is there any sexual scenes. Actually, if anything, taking out a few words here-or-there could probably make my novel close to “all-ages.”

But when it comes to the action, I find I go all-out. For some reason, the violence is amped up, as is the “gore” so to speak. The thing that’s getting me is how “plain” the rest of my book reads to me in comparison to my action scenes.

I don’t know if this makes for better story telling or not! I have no idea! I make this up as I go along! I still have great detail in other events in the book, but I feel the thing that really makes my book “adult” is the intense scenes of violence.

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this since first writing my novel. Is this something I should worry about? Is this something which will shun people away from my story? Does it degrade my story in any way? It certainly is NOT the “focus” of my story, but to me, it seems. . . different?

Am I looking too much into this?

So I ask of you, fellow writers: HELP!