Yeah, I Write Poetry

When I was at In Your Write Mind last weekend, I took a workshop on Poetry. One of mywriter juice good friends, Suz Jay, sent me a link for a Writer’s Digest contest this week and it seemed like fun. I spent a half hour and wrote a poem. This is a particular style called Zejel. It is an old Spanish style, with a specific rhyming scheme.

As it turns out I like this. It fits my short attention span very nicely. I hope to do a lot more.


Anyway here it is, please to enjoy:


Spilling your guts upon the page

Racking your brain, confine the rage

Squeeze your heart and open the cage


Character, Setting, Conflict, Story

Try and Fail, Nail your Quarry

The elusive plot turned Allegory

Keep on bleeding, you’ve set the stage


Plots and Arcs and Point of View

Mix it all into the stew

Maintain Voice all the way through

No pity for the war we wage


Show don’t tell, crank up the dial

Active voice all the while

Don’t forget the Elements of style

Now your drama has come of age

5 Things: My favorite Music to Listen to When I Write

I can write when its quiet. I can sort of write when the television or streaming device is playing. I can write when I am in a public space and its not horribly loud. I am pretty damned good at tuning this out (Just ask my wife.) But if I have my druthers I like to listen to music when I write. Here are 5 of my favorites in no particular order.

  1. Soundtracks are great, especially science fiction movies or adventure movies. My favorite of all time is Tron Legacy by Daft Punk. I listen to this pretty regularly. Pirates of the Caribbean are all pretty good. Ironman soundtracks are also great. If you are doing horror I would recommend the Diablo game soundtracks.
  2. Playlists are also great. I made a bunch back in the day when I started using iTunes. One of my favorites in one with Alterbridge, Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace. I listened to this a lot when I wrote my first novel, so it has become a nostalgia thing now.
  3. Build your own playlist for that project. I haven’t really done this all the way. I’ve started a couple of times but never really finished it. I have done like a soundtrack for the movie that might be made. That is always fun. But building the soundtrack takes considerable time, time I would rather use actually writing in most cases.
  4. Pandora is good for music if you don’t have anything particular in mind. I like Bread Radio for 70s stuff and Talk Talk Radio for 80s stuff. I have a bunch of other stations, too.
  5. Spotify is unbelievable. I can pick from so many things. Songs or Albums or playlists or a particular band or even a mood. My son in law made some really great playlists. I have been listening to a lot of 311 recently. Radiohead really works for me. It is eclectic enough that it doesn’t distract me.

What do you listen to? Who are your favorites?


Throwback Thursday: “I Suck at Writing” Revisited

i-suck-at-writingThis one goes back to Jan 13, 2011. There is still a great deal of truth in these words.  I will say that for the record I don’t say those words very often any more. I have gotten better. I can recognize mistakes much easier now and I have learned to trust that inner voice. But imposter syndrome is a real thing and I still deal with that when I am around friends that are published, even though they keep encouraging me.

You ever read something you’ve written and then throw your hands up in the air and tell your spouse “I suck at writing!”?

I’ve done it several times in the course of writing my novel, but I think I’m coming to the realization that sometimes I do suck. Not always, but sometimes I do. I am figuring out that I need to trust that inner voice that is telling me I suck. I’ll come back to that.

I’ve also read scenes that I said to myself, “Damn, that’s pretty good!” Sometimes, not always, and not nearly as often as I would like, but usually I’m somewhere in the middle. There is a big gulf between “Damn that’s good!” and “I suck!” Large parts of the story are moving between the big scenes in the outline, and I often don’t know for sure where I’m going between those big scenes. A lot of it might end up on the cutting room floor during the rewrite, but it’s good for me to write those scenes out so that I know where it’s going. I have the outline in my head (part of it on paper) but I do what is referred to as “Discovery Writing” for the stuff in between. I’ve had to back-track a couple of times because my characters were leading me down a dead end or a direction that would completely change the story. Sometimes those tangents are good enough to make me tweak the outline. Letting the characters bring the story to me is one of the great joys of writing.

I’ve heard many authors and writing coaches suggest that if you are stuck on a scene to just move past it and come back later, but my brain doesn’t seem to work that way. I need to know what’s going to happen next, because it might change everything. I grind on a scene for hours sometimes. I’m not what you would call a fast writer. The most I have ever written in one day is about 4000 words. It’s usually a lot closer to 500. But I struggle to get it right the first time. I’m not going to be one of those writers that can pump out a book every 3 months. It’s just not gonna happen. Not unless I see a major change in my skill set. I’m ok with that.

Getting back to listening to the inner voice, it can be very frustrating to work on a scene for hours then sit back and read what you’ve written and lament to your spouse that you should give up writing. What this usually means is it’s just not crafted right. Maybe it’s a scene that needs to be skipped because it’s boring, if you’re bored so is your reader. Sometimes the struggles mean it just needs to go. Sometimes it means you are making the reader read your story instead of feeling the story.

After working one of those scenes that made you say “I suck!” until it feels right can really validate you. It can make you feel like maybe you can write after all; maybe you do have what it takes to do this as a professional. Sometimes the POV needs to be changed or maybe you need to add some movement so it’s not all just dialogue. People rarely just sit still and speak. They play with their hair and scratch their face and other body parts and fidget all over the place. Show that to your reader. Put them there in the scene so they can see the entire picture.   Let them feel the emotions of your characters, don’t just tell them that your character is nervous or angry, show them.

Trust yourself when you read back over something you’ve written and want to throw up. Just go back and fix it! You can do this!  You’re a writer after all!


Clear Ether!