Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Analysis: Translating the Passion

I don’t consider myself a writer.  I’m just a guy that likes to write. Specifically, I like to write poetry.  Or more aptly, song lyrics.  I’m most influenced by other songwriters, who I consider to be today’s real poets.  Among those influences are people like The Beatles, Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Dave Matthews, Rik Emmett of Triumph, and Chris Cornell.
A well-written lyric can be extremely powerful.  Cleverly compact and expertly crafted, a lyric properly done is the distillation of something infinitely more complex to a keen glimpse of insight. The satisfaction derived from occasionally being fortunate enough to be the distiller is something hard to describe, but if you’re really lucky, the final product makes a tangible impact on someone else too.
So why write?  What makes you want to write?  My answer has always been ‘Because I like it.’  When I was younger, I always found my inspiration in angst, heartache, or just about anything that made me feel bad.  As I’ve gotten older and found happiness, my inspiration comes from spiritual issues or love.  For me, writing has always been cathartic.
How do you get ideas?  In my experience, ideas come in the middle of the night as I’m trying to fall asleep.  Long, quiet car trips produce the same effect, causing my mind to flood with stuff. Phrases I see or hear are especially key for me.  Just a few words combined a certain way can set off an uncontrollable avalanche in my head, which can cause a problem if you’re not prepared.  I have scrawled entire inspirations on minute scraps of paper, matchbooks, napkins, you name it, in attempts to capture and remember my thoughts.  I used to carry a pen with me at all times in case an idea struck unexpectedly but today’s Smartphone technology has solved that dilemma for me.  I also have one of those tiny digital recorders.  Anyone ever see the movie Night Shift with Michael Keaton?  The Elusive Idea.  The best ones will sometimes sneak up on you.  Be ready.
Of course, my writing effort is not confined solely to poetry.  While poetry just flows out of me whenever it likes, my other writings require much more deliberate effort.  To that end, I follow a few guidelines: 
  • Write what you know.
  • Write vividly.  That’s the best way to capture the passion.
  • Outlines are critical.
  • Character development is crucial.
  • Imagery / Symbolism gives writing texture.  Sometimes this takes care of itself if you have a rich enough reserve to draw from.  So when you’re required to read Moby Dick, you’re well served to actually read it. Think about the imagery you’re familiar with; when you create an image that is the same across people’s minds…you know you’ve done it right.  But think about when you create images that are different across minds…that can be very special too.  It can be paradoxical. That’s personally appealing to me and an aspect I strive for consistently.  If there is one single reason why I write, this is probably it.
  • Revise.  I constantly revise my traditional writing, but take care not to revise the passion right out.  It’s that concern that often hinders me from revising my poems.  Small changes in poetry can often alter the intent so I usually do very little editing, instead opting to completely start over and create something else entirely.
  • Copyright.  Although you always own the copyright on things you create, I encourage people to obtain legal copyright on anything they think is worthy before floating it out in cyberspace. It’s not costly to accomplish.
As I’ve mentioned previously in my Introduction Interruption post, I don’t usually offer much commentary on my poems unless I’m asked.  I recently came across some previous exchanges I’ve had regarding works I’ve posted and will be adding some of that content in the Comments section of those posts.  I encourage you to go back and review those and engage me with any Comments of your own.  Anything stand out? Anything confuse you?  Can you offer constructive advice on how to fix trouble spots I couldn’t fix myself?  My style is often purposely obscure…imagery is everything to me…and I love learning that I’ve achieved the goal of creating different images across minds or been the lucky distiller of a tangible impact.


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