A tentative blog to test the temperature.
Ten years ago I was writing several blogs on various subjects - F1 motor racing, Music, Classic Cars, Great Romances and, most crushingly, a personal journal that included my thoughts on America, memories of England and Africa, opinion, humour, writing and anything else that occurred. It all became too much (I was attempting to update the journal every day) and I collapsed, exhausted and thoroughly disillusioned in the end.|
So this blog is indeed a Toe in the Water, a place to document my thoughts in and on WdC but with a determination not to get sucked into the blog whirlpool ever again. Here's hoping.
|Pretty in Porcelain
Nine days without a post. See what thoughtlessness can do? Anyway, there is this: The problem of reading "pottery" whenever "poetry" is mentioned is getting worse. Only this morning I was reading down the list and came to The Humorous Pottery Contest.
What the heck does humorous pottery look like?
|Confrontation and All That
Years ago (in my thirties) I had very good friends in a couple who shared many of my interests. We spent many happy hours talking of everything under the sun and getting to know each other.
And then, one day, the lady of the couple and I ran into a subject on which we both held strong but opposite opinions. I had become accustomed to pretty robust argument in my late school and college days and I piled into this one in my usual fashion. Basically, I destroyed her arguments and revealed her thinking to be seriously flawed.
And that, as far as I was concerned, was that. It was an abstract concept that required seriously logical thought to unravel and I saw the incident as doing the lady a favour. I had spoken up for the truth and she could now share in the glory of it.
Oh, arrogant little twerp that I was. About a week later I heard, through another friend, that the lady was quite cut up about the whole thing. It turned out that she had taken it as a personal attack on herself, whereas to me, it was merely a bit of mental sparring to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution. I had been trained to separate my beliefs and opinions from the person I was, to see that we are not what we think but how we behave.
Suddenly I understood how my devastating attack on this single belief of hers was perceived as a personal affront, seemingly ridiculing her rather than the abstract idea we were talking about. I went round to the couple’s house immediately and apologised for my boorish behaviour, promising that I would never again attack someone else’s beliefs in so vicious a manner.
And as far as I can remember, I have stuck to that promise with everyone I come into contact with. You can try as hard as you like to get me to talk about my political and/or religious beliefs and I will avoid confrontation. No matter how strongly I feel that I am right about something, I do not have the right to judge someone who believes otherwise. We can talk about things, yes, but the moment it starts getting heated, I will back off. It’s really not worth the aggravation.
Years later, a very good friend of mine summed up the matter in a statement that amuses me still. When confronted by mounting dissension and argument, he would defuse it by saying this: “Very well, you go your way. And I’ll go God’s.”
Word count: 431
|A Thought on Rhyme
I never used to like rhyme. Seemed a bit too close to the old advertising jingle, nursery rhyme kinda thing, if you know what I mean. And I couldn’t see the point of barring oneself from the word that means exactly what you want to say, merely because it doesn’t fit with the rhyming pattern.
But I’ve read stuff from some very capable rhymers in WdC and recently persuaded myself to give it a go. Did comic rhyme initially as it seemed the most suitable. Which it was, considering my inexperience of the matter. Started to use it a bit more extensively as I found it had its compensations. Moved it into more serious realms.
Then I started linking it to established meters and forms. And fell head over heels in love with trochaic tetrameter, the form that Longfellow wrote The Song of Hiawatha in. No doubt it’s a temporary craze but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. It’s so insistent on the reader slipping into its rhythm, almost as overpowering as the limerick but not as trivial. Sure, it threatens to tip over into ditty at any moment but not if you keep the subject matter serious.
But I was talking about rhyme. And today I realised a rule that I’ve been applying without knowing it. Rhyme has to be flexible in that it needs a reverse gear as well as forward. Meaning that it’s a mistake to get your first line written and then search for a rhyme for the second line. It’s a matter of finding the right words before either line becomes settled. Sometimes the first line has to change its clothes completely so that the second can look as smart as it should.
And that’s when rhyme begins to assume its correct place in the toolbox. When the first line doesn’t dictate to the second but they work together, away go all those contrived rhymes that smack the reader in the eye and leave a bad taste. Rhyme can hide as though camouflaged when allowed to work as a team.
So I guess this old free verser is at least a partial convert. But I still go free when it really matters.
Word count: 369
|On Being Mistaken
I realised a long time ago that I should not listen to someone’s opinion of another. All too often I believed in the truth of the assessment I’d be given, only to find that, once I’d met the subject of that opinion, I thought of them very differently. How can people be so wrong about someone, I asked myself.
It took a while to learn how to take things with a large pinch of salt but I mastered the art eventually. And now I won’t judge you until I know you. Of course, sometimes I get it wrong and I’ve been known to make the most awful gaffe’s in personality assessment. But at least they’re my mistakes, and not someone else’s.
Word count: 121
Sometimes I worry about the quantity I produce in WdC. It’s not like me to be so productive. Since joining the group, I have written far more (and more varied) stuff than ever before in my lifetime. Just as an example, in the year so far, I have written thirty-eight short stories. That’s unheard of for me - Before I joined WdC, I’d have been lucky to produce as many as ten of them in a year.
I’m not saying they’re all good. In fact, that’s what is worrying me. Since I write now under tremendous pressure to produce something, it seems to me that the quality suffers. Not so much in the writing - I don’t have a concern about that, apart from the occasional typo slipping through (and that’s irritating enough). But in the ideas department. I just cannot force original and interesting ideas from the old brain on demand.
Sometimes I get so desperate at the lack of ideas that I start without any notion of where the story will take me. The number of unfinished stories mounts in my storehouse. On occasion that method will work and I’ll have a good idea while I’m writing. But, too often, I finish the thing and it turns out to be, if I’m honest, pedestrian.
By which I mean that it lacks that zing, that special shine that denotes something fresh and different. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself - others seem to find my stuff reasonably good. But maybe they’re just being polite.
Not that I’d like the output to slow down or be limited to good stuff only in the portfolio. This abundance of writing is so new to me that I enjoy it even with the worries. If I can produce the occasional gem, I don’t mind if it’s surrounded by mediocrity. Let ‘em dig for the good stuff, I say.
Anyway, that’s my moan for the day.
Word count: 320