About Me

My photo
I am a writer, poet, and free-lance editor. Author of Lawmen of the Old West: The Good Guys and Lawmen of the Old West: The Bad Guys. I've had poems and stories in di*verse*city, Blood and Thunder, West View, The Enigmatist, and others. I love poetry but enjoy all forms of writing and editing. I'm the author of two books of poetry, Songs on the Prairie Wind dealing with the people, land and history of the rural Southwest and Voices of Christmas, the traditional Christmas story in free verse persona poems. I do contract editing of other writer's manuscripts. I'm the worst guitar player in the Common Folk band at Trinity Episcopal Church. I'm an imperfect husband to the perfect wife (she might read this sometime), father (great grown kids) and grandfather (they're great kids, too)

Monday, September 05, 2005

That dirty rat!!

Well, yet another way to get out of writing. Someone seems to have invited a very naughty member of God's creation to share my house with me. If I don't get rid of it soon, it may have the house to itself. Some mousey critter has eaten it's way through the water lines to both my washing machine and my dishwasher. I know it's been dry around here but that's ridiculous!

Ok, got that off my mind. I've been concentrating on my poetry lately and, in that process, picked up a book that I had somehow missed, I Wanted To Write A Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet by William Carlos Williams reported and edited by Edith Heal. If you are interested in poetry and, like me, missed this little book, go find it. Whether you like W. C. W. 's poems or not, the history of his writing and how he came to find his later voice is fascinating and instructive. My experience, as far as training in writing, and his have been very similiar and I didn't expect that. I find I have been through some of the same stages and can only hope that, having started a bit later than he did, I will be able to reach the same level of, if not craft, at least understanding, before I die.

He struggled to come up with a definition of the type of poetry he wrote and settled on the term "variable foot" to describe the way he organized the structure of his poems. He was adamant that what he wrote later in his career was not free verse but organized verse controlled by this concept. I'm not sure I understand his "variable foot" but I don't doubt that he was in controll of his poetry. WCW was not the sort of poet that I have to occasionally deal with who believes that words splash out on the page in the order that some unknown muse gives them and, once there, they are sacrosanct. A great deal of the poet's comes in the act of chiseling away the unnecessary works and thoughts in order to reveal the one great thought contained in the material from which that poem is being crafted.

So, what's the point of all this? Just that writing is work and the hardest of that work is poetry. If we can learn to find the perfect words and put them in an order that will let them sing, then we are poets.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Well, now. Where to start? First, why am I doing this with so many writing projects stuck in various stages of incompletion and disrepair? I quote Kinky Friedman's campaign slogan in his current run for governor of the State of Texas, "Why not?"

Actually, this may be my newest and most creative way of avoiding writing for profit yet. Let's see, I have clean-up work left to do on my book of Christmas poems, I start teaching a creative writing class at 10am on August 23 at John Ed Keeter Public Library in Saginaw, Texas, and I have a reading and talk to do at the Langdon Weekend in Clifton, Texas. I'm not really prepared for any of that. That doesn't include the children's novel, a western, believe it or not and the mystery for grownups that I should be working on.

Ok, I got the whining out of the way, let's see where this goes.

The Writer's Task

When someone hears that I write and says, "Oh, I write, too," I always ask them first,"What do you write?" Then I want to know, "What do you do with it?" The answers vary from, "oh, I sell a few things to this or that publisher or my poems have been in this or that small journal" to "uh, well, I just keep them in a folder at home." The latter response is often followed by, "I just write to suit my self and for my own purposes. I don't show it to anyone else."

I don't understand that. Sure, I know what they mean, but I can't relate to it personally. When I started this, I thought about what I was going to say, not for me, I don't need to type it and edit it for me, I thought of someone reading it. I don't think I ever write anything without an awareness of a reader looking over my shoulder. Does that mean I try to write to please that, or any particular, reader? Nope. It means that, for me, the purpose of words is to communicate. There is no actual phone call without a sender and a receiver. There is no communication without the same two elements. It is not important to me that someone likes what I have to say. (Well, I can't say I don't like it when they do but...) What matters is that I have made the effort to communicate. I have been fortunate with my published writing in that it has always drawn a response, sometimes negative, but, fortunately for my ego, there has always been someone who liked it. In the case of my poetry, I have even been told that a piece has had a positive effect on someone. (That's not counting the Spice of My Life who claims to think everything I do is wonderful. )

So, if you have thought of writing (see, I'm assuming there is a "you" to talk to here) I suggest that you first find the idea you want to express, decide in what form you want to put it, then start off putting words on paper or your computer screen with that little sense that there is someone, perhaps eventually a vast audience, looking over your shoulder eagerly waiting for the next word to appear. That will spur you on, I hope, and keep you from clicking that button that says "games" and blowing what might have been a productive morning. (And you thought I didn't know, didn't you?)

I'm not the most organized of folks so don't hold me to a schedule but I intend to post here, on an irregular basis, my thoughts on writing and the writing life. I welcome comments, arguments, objections, congratulations, and any other reasonable response that you might wish to make.

Be at peace,