How Quiet Drives Good Poetry

Last night, after I thought everyone had gone to bed, I was working on editing a poem’s title, which I knew was simply not right. It was too simplistic, explicit and redundant with the poem’s text. I had jotted down a few ideas and was in the middle of this process when my son walked in and started talking about a tennis racket he was researching. And you guessed it, whatever breakthrough I was about to make on that title was gone.

Writing poetry begs for a deep quiet. This is a quiet that pertains to the mind more than the sounds around us, although silences help. Poetry is deep observation and contemplation and rumination, and letting disparate ideas blunder about the quiet spaces to see how they interact.

William Stafford in an interview with David Elliott in his book of conversations, At Home in the Dark, said, “…for me the experience of finding the way in writing is one of sensitivity, listening, glimpsing, going forward by means of little signals, and those little signals are available in conditions of quiet, lack of turbulence, and conditions that are non-confrontational….I think that one finds one’s way of with a sensibility that requires an attitude other than loudness or aggression.”

Stafford’s extension of this idea to being the antithesis of loudness and aggression certainly resonated with me. Poetry, in the way Stafford means and in the way I most appreciate it, is the opposite of this brash, angry grandstanding of cultish politics.

There is a certain level of sorcery to poetry writing that goes beyond thoughtfulness. There is this idea of being quietly open and receptive to what the world and the words want to say.

Work-in-Progress: The Novel That Insisted

I’m finally writing the science-fiction novel that’s been bugging me for a year and a half. It just wouldn’t leave me alone. So finally, I said, “Fine, come over here. Let’s do this.”

I always enjoy writing, but one element that has particularly drawn me in this time has been the characters themselves. They are constantly doing and saying things that engage me. Every day, I can’t wait to dive back in and explore how these characters are going to confront the next scene.

There’s more comedy here than I’ve seen in my adult fiction before. Perhaps, this is a by-product of the children’s literature I’ve been writing. But I know it’s a good thing. I’ve been looking for ways to get more humor into my work, and now, it’s just emerging naturally.

Obviously, it will be a long while before I can share any of this story with the larger world, publishing being what it is. But I can’t wait. At the very least, I need to get this in front of beta readers soon in the coming months.

What I’m Writing: Novels, Stories and Chapter Books

I thought it might be fun to update readers on what I’ve been working on. You’re probably already aware that I launched the second book in the Spit Mechs series this month (Spit Mechs 2). In December, I hope to launch the first in another chapter book series Squint & Rocket. If I get a reasonable response to these two books, I will most likely continue these two series in 2018.

But I also write adult fiction. Up to this point that has been almost exclusively fantasy and science-fiction, which of course, includes steampunk (greatest sub-genre ever?) I published a short story last year in the British sci-fi journal Singularity. (And have sent out dozens of other stories to other journals.) I have two separate steampunk novels that I have been sending out to prospective agents. Recently, I’ve developed the outlines for two separate novels. One is set in modern day southwest Texas and follows a young woman who, while navigating a sexist culture and a strained relationship with her father, makes a fantastic discovery that transports the story into something bordering fantasy. The second outline is for a full-out sci-fi novel that touches on themes of racism, conspiracy and competitive sports. Not yet satisfied with either, lately I have been pushing around an idea I have for a modern-day literary story with possible hints of magical realism that would focus on somewhat philosophical dialogue.

And I write the occasional poem too. Since there’s not a real monetary market for these, I’ve toyed with the idea of publishing those online (for free).

And that’s it, for now. Would love to hear your thoughts!