Not Your Average Blogger’s New Year’s Post

Word is there’s an event what’s been going ’round. I can’t but turn a corner and I finds myself smack-dab against words like ‘resolutions’ an’ ‘goals’ an’ ‘exercise.’ I tell ya what: them’s fighting words and I’ll have no truck with ’em.

Accordingly and characteristically, I have been pondering on a different weighty subject: obscure talents.

Everyone has talents. Many have useful talents. Still more have talents that don’t come up in regular conversation because they just might get said ‘talented’ person ostracized.

Take me, for example. One of my many less-mainstream gifts is the ability to bark like a dog. Specifically, I bark similar to a German Shepherd. How do I know which canine I sound like? I learned as a child when our pet was that breed. In case you are not sure why I don’t bring this up often, just think where I would possibly apply it. …yeah… I can’t think of a place, either. Mostly I startle people my children brag to, but that’s not happening as much since my kids are getting embarrassed solely by the fact that I’m alive.

Another talent I have is possessing somewhat apelike toes on my long, narrow feet. I cannot hang by them, unfortunately, but I did practice writing with them when younger. I reasoned that the skill would come in handy when I was captured by government agents bent on imprisoning me because of my X-Men-like abilities.

The third of my most-interesting gifts is ear-wiggling. …Maybe more of ear-shifting. They move, anyway. I literally practiced in front of a mirror as a child to first achieve movement, and have since honed and isolated ear wigglingness whenever I’m bored during a conversation or business meeting.

Last for now is hiccups on-demand. A related and less-ladylike talent is erm… on-demand burping -which is another one that doesn’t come up in polite conversation. I discovered, quite early on and in church, that I could give myself the hiccups if I burped (silently) long enough. I’ve used a hiccuping spell to get out of meetings since, and …to accidentally attract my husband on our first date. The good news is that I am extremely good at ridding myself of them as well.

If ever I meet any of you in person, now, I’ll have to ask you not to mention these. Otherwise, I’ll not have any material for that two truths/one lie party game.

Enough about me anyway. What about you? Surely you have a talent of two up your sleeve? In what unusual area are you an expert?

Fork

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Yay! A really long week to review!
Monday, December 24: Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
Tuesday, December 25: Dude; that was Christmas.
Wednesday, December 26: “Inspirational Plagiarism: a Dialogue.” This may have come about after thinking to myself for two days.
Thursday, December 27: “I Finally Donned the Sorting Hat,” If I were a witch, apparently I’d be a know-it-all.
Friday, December 28: Inspirational quote by Mark Twain that I intentionally mis-quoted in “Inspirational Plagiarism.”
Saturday, December 29: Announced the seventh Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. ENTER IT or I’ll only have three entries to judge from.
Sunday, December 30: “Raw Ramblings.” We’ll call it a free-verse poem.
Monday, December 31: A quote to inspire this new year thingie, by James Agate.
Tuesday, January 1: “Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Seven.”
Wednesday, January 2: You made it to today!

The Apple Pie from the Same Tree

Ann’s mother was special when it came to food. She could scan a printed page, retrieve a container from the cupboard, and *poof* add to the mixing bowl. Later, the family would eat freshly-baked casserole or chocolate-crusted cake.

And that is why Ann thought she might be magic, too. Surely, by the same means, Ann could create with a pinch of this or dash of that.

After Ann’s first attempt, only her father would taste it.

“Ah. Mashed potatoes?” he asked.

Ann nodded, trying not to feel sick as he stirred her mix of potato, milk, and runny eggs.

benjamin-manley-650590-unsplash

Based on the author’s actual experience, and
Stirred together for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry

Lo! What light, what cackling sun
Burns your eyes?
It laughs as you run;
Jumping, grasping, to
Catch the poem…

If you thought that was bad, you were right. I literally wrote that without any thought, direction, or meter. I took about fifteen seconds.

Don’t get me wrong -sometimes people like that crap. Sometimes the Crap Off the Cuff really isn’t bad. However, poetry is just like any other crafted item: the more practice you have at your skill, the better anything you make will be.
Translation: those who are experts can write a decent impromptu poem, and the stuff they worked longer on is even better.

So, *ahem.* Let’s stop mucking about and finally jump into A Few Steps for Writing Poetry:

1. Don’t.
Seriously, there are already a lot of good poets out there who have already written your idea in a better way. Thanks to Google, you can probably find it.
There are also a lot of terrible poets who have murdered your idea and now it’s bleeding by the side of the road begging people to stop clicking that they Like it.

2. Still determined? Good! You’ve passed the first test: that of true motivation for verse. I feel that motivation, a muse, hangover, emotional distress, late-night deadlines -whatever your name is for it- are vital to writing a poem.
Even if you don’t have a clear subject or good structure, the sheer determination to express what you feel will squeeze something out.

3. Actual Guidelines
So… there is this type of meter I poked fun at initially. It’s called free verse. Let me tell you, from my extremely limited experience, that freely versing can be a BAD idea. It’s the commando version of creative writing, and needs a brave, strong, experienced writer to handle it.
My recommendation, therefore, is to follow a meter. No, you don’t have to go full-out iambic pentameter. Only do so if you wish to be counting on your fingers and looking up rhymes for “depressed” all evening.
A good start is to come up with a few lines in your mind, then count the syllables (and pattern of stress/non-stress) and roughly follow that for the remaining lines.

4. Stress and Non-stress
Really quickly: this is where we put the emphasis on our words when we speak. I threw it in here because I mentioned it in the previous step, and you might be scratching your head over it.
Sometimes, I write a poem and there is one line that is really bugging me. Usually, it’s because I followed my syllable count, but did not follow normal speech rules of emphasis.
Because of that, the syllable count is actually off. Readers (including you) will do a mental glottal stop to be able to stress the words where we are accustomed to.

5. To Rhyme, or Not Some Thyme?
This one is up to you. I mostly rhyme for mine, every other line.
The length of each line and how often you rhyme (every single ending word, halfway through, every other, or randomly) will determine whether your poem feels like a poem, Dr. Seuss, or a rap song.
Keep in mind that even Seuss mixed things up a bit. One of my favorite stanzas in The Cat in the Hat is:

So, as fast as I could,
I went after my net.
And I said, “With my net
I can get them I bet.
I bet, with my net,
I can get those Things yet!”

Try it; it’s fun to read through.

6. Word Choice
Let’s say you want to emote about love and loss of said love. You are going to make us all feel something different than affection if you literally use the word “love” more than about three times. Sometimes, my limit is even one.
This is where your friend, Mr. Thesaurus, comes in. I mentioned this in my How to Not Suck at Writing rant as well, because it’s really important.
Let’s say you’re not that into synonyms. Too much woooorrrrkkk.
You will sound way more mysterious and intelligent if you do it. Like, “I loved and lost and lost my love” could become “Adored, then absent; Carelessly cherished.”

7. More Word Choice
Poetry is all about obscurity. Even when it’s a straightforward tale of a path diverging in the forest, everyone still says the poem is about something deeper.
So, use your new thesaural friend to obfuscate your terms, or make the simple description of your plush tiger on the shelf sound like it represents your childhood memories of being abandoned.

8. Practice and Preparedness
This goes for anything, but especially creative writing.
Read other poets, and copy their style. Keep a notebook to jot down random lines that come to you on the train. Try, try, try again. Everything you read and write will give you experience.

Now, go! Make the world a poetic place.