"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Christmas Update

I unfortunately got sidetracked by a commercial project the past 30 days and lost time writing.  Given the choice I'd rather have been writing but probably could've used the break... so I'm going with it.  A week ago or so I spent rearranging my titles list into a possible content structure and finished Flagpole Days, Autumn Harvest, Solitude, my Swahili poem, added a Carmina, tried to rewrite Hiawatha failing to find the rhythm or tone I wanted, and rewrote Painted Rooms again.

Looking forward, I have at least a dozen or so roughed-out poems I'd like to finish including four or five that are interconnected to a common theme, along with two legendary tales (one's quite lengthy).  I had hoped to get all of them done before Christmas and to book-bind them for my folks and family but can see now it'll be somewhere between March and July by the time I finish these.

It also seems that my creativity period has dried up as I search for better ways to express myself.  I'm going to take some time off to read a novel or two, and finish some other projects I have to do; maybe pick at things as I go along just to keep my hand in the task of writing and not get too far away from it lest I come to a stop altogether.  It's been a long 12 months.

My goal was a hundred pieces and I'm at 58 with 10-12 to go, making it 68-70.  I also have six completed short stories and another six I need to rewrite.  And then I have one very lengthy sports story I wrote a year ago which needs to be re-written in a different voice, as well as a theology book I've started.  But each time I do I get some personal disaster which pulls me away from it (which seems highly coincidental to me, as it's been a several year pattern ongoing).

My theology book consists of two major sections of 10-12 chapters each.  The first section is a teaching section and the second section reviews each previous chapter integrating them with one another.  I'm tracing major thematic elements between the testaments and tying them together to help simplify reading the Christian bible from its vast theological complexity.  It's mainly for my son and daughter as a biblical theological premier (not systematics theology but biblical theology).  Once it's written I have a theological professor in mind whom I wish to contact who teaches and thinks in the style as my beloved friend, and now deceased professor, Carl B. Hoch.  With his input I hope to remove inaccuracies and update it generally from someone much closer to the material than I currently am.

Overall, I like writing short stories, but I prefer the poetry format better because of all the many varieties that it allows for personal expression, creating new words and ideas, tone, coloring, shading, everything!  Sooo, I think I made a good start even though I'm short by 30 pieces, but its still enough to judge where I'm at and see if its any good (my general impression is that they each need a rewrite to sharpen up their tone and focus and readability) and whether they might stand up to reader interest or not.  I haven't tried a Shakespearan sonnet and would like to try that someday just to see if I can.  But with Flagpole Days I did try a running sentence broken into 12 verse sections and am quite pleased with its lilt and composition.  The thought occurred as I was listening to Mozart's Requiem which gave me the idea of seeing how many rounds/voices could be put into a musical piece and still get one overarching theme... I think he got up to 14 competing rounds/voices making for one massive sound which is exquisite to the ear held in rapture.

At this point I should probably find some outside opinions and a publisher to see what's next, though generally I find this a distasteful task and would rather not.  My knowledge of critics tells me to beware overvaluing their opinions... John Keats is a good example of perserverance by following heart/pen while allowing the task itself to resolve any future readership.  Too, I've only ever have written for me and my kids, but from the several people who have read them I think I should share them as they are generally liked, though I care not about this but whether they might add thought and contemplation as I speak my soul.  I do worry about how personal they are, but I'm sure every poet does. They are myself unsheathed as I can allow that task, and a reader will either like them or not. I cannot be anything less than myself and can only speak of what I hear and wish to write against the streams of humanity that sings its own songs alongside mine own.

RE Slater
December 10, 2009