Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Other Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, née Coles, was an English fiction writer who lived from 1912 to 1975. Writers about Elizabeth Taylor the novelist have speculated that part of the reason for her relative obscurity might be because she was eclipsed by the actor Elizabeth Taylor, who was born twenty years after the novelist. Despite their age difference, both the fiction writer and the actor flourished at the same time in the 1950s and 60s, because the more famous Elizabeth Taylor achieved celebrity as a child actress.

The fiction writer Elizabeth Taylor
I stumbled on the work of the fiction writer Elizabeth Taylor through the film Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, a delightful movie that stars the great Joan Plowright in the title role. Mrs. Palfrey, based on one of Taylor’s final novels, is representative of much of Taylor’s work in that it involves two themes the author was fond of: a woman alone, and a person caught in a fictitious or false role that she has created.

Taylor’s Wikipedia article mentions that she was briefly a member of the Communist Party, and afterwards a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party. Her political persuasions do occasionally enter into her writing in a subtle way. But one of Taylor’s outstanding qualities as an author is that she almost never oversteps the role of the writer as an objective observer of personality. Her endings are nearly flawless in their even-handed meting out of fates to the characters.

I’ve only had the chance to read one of Taylor’s books so far, her short story collection, A Dedicated Man and Other Stories, which I really enjoyed. One benefit of reading short stories, as opposed to novels, is that they give a quick overview of the kinds of plots and characters that a writer is drawn to. A specialty of Taylor’s that appears in several of the stories is her insight into the conversations of couples talking about other couples, including their friends. There is that strange distancing that happens after a dinner party, where a couple sizes up the other duo, making little remarks that showcase their own relationship as the true party line.

There is a wonderful story in A Dedicated Man called “The Prerogative of Love,” about a couple who are giving a dinner party for another couple on a sweltering summer night at their house in the suburbs of London. The lady of the house, Lillah, is a beautiful, childless woman, known for her romantic marriage with a man named Richard. Overcome by the heat, Lillah seems unable to lift a finger to do anything to make the evening a success, leaving the entertaining to her husband and the cooking to the cook, Mrs. Hatton. Richard rather resents that his wife has been home all day but has done nothing to prepare for the party, leaving him no time for a quick dip in the river after he commutes home from London.

In barges Lillah’s niece, Arabella, a fashion model, even more self-preoccupied than her aunt. In fact, all the characters in this story could be placed on a continuum of selflessness or self-absorbtion, with Lillah and Arabella the most concerned with themselves, and the cook at the other end of the spectrum, since she is almost psychically attentive to the needs of others. (The class politics do sneak in from time to time.)

The couple who come to dinner, John and Helen Forester, are somewhere in the middle of this scale, rather conventional English parents who breed dogs as a hobby and have none of the glamour of their hosts. Helen falls all over Lillah with admiration, and her husband develops a fantasy crush on the young model.

The point of view at the end of the story switches to the Foresters, as they dissect the evening when they drive home from the party. (Taylor is quite unattached to any one point of view in her stories, moving fluidly from one character’s perspective to another—something writers can learn from her stories.) Taylor begins with the wife’s comment about the hostess’s dress, but the husband, still thinking about the young model, misunderstands her:

“A really beautiful frock,” she was saying.
“Unusual,” he replied. “Not much of it.” He suddenly laughed.
“I meant Lillah’s.”
Presently she sighed and said, “He’s so wonderful to her always.”
John knew the pattern—the excited admiration invariably turned to dissatisfaction in the end—one of the reasons why these evenings ruffled him.
“I’m sure that to him she’s as beautiful as on the day they married,” she went on.
“Still a very fine woman,” he replied.
“Is it because they’ve never had children, I wonder? The glamour hasn’t worn off by all those nursery troubles. All their love kept for one another.”
“It is better to have children,” John said.
“Well, of course. Who ever’d deny it? You know I didn’t think that. But I wondered if it had drawn them close together, not having them. They never seem to take one another for granted.” “As we do,” she left unspoken, though her sigh was explicit.
“Well, we musn’t compare ourselves with them,” he said rather smartly. “And who are we to be talking about love? They’re the ones. They’re famous for it, after all. It’s their prerogative.”

Taylor laces this brief conversation with many rich ironies. First of all, the wife, Helen, is scolding her husband for his lingering thoughts of the young model’s skimpy outfit, then making a pointed comment that their hosts have a much more romantic relationship.
Meanwhile, the husband, John, is humoring his wife’s fascination with the hosts, remarking slightly sarcastically that only couples such as Richard and Lillah have a right to be considered not only as a domestic unit but as a romantic one.
What seems most ironic is the author’s own viewpoint. The author has let us in on the secret that Lillah certainly does take Richard for granted, and is quite spoiled. Taylor seems to be criticizing the way that love is linked in most people’s minds with the character of self-indulgent beauties, rather than with more selfless personalities, such as that of the cook, who is able to anticipate her employers’ every need. 

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka

Monday, September 22, 2014

Poetry vs. Memoir: "Forcing a Genre"

By “forcing a genre,” I mean insisting on writing a piece in a certain form, even if that form is not right for that specific work. I see this on a regular basis as poetry editor of Catamaran Literary Reader. A writer will submit a poem that is divided into lines, the way a poem usually is, but the line breaks feel artificial. The language has the warp and woof of prose. It doesn’t have any of the compression or music that marks strong poetry.

Often when I see this happen, the author is writing very autobiographically. The story might be extremely compelling. So compelling, the writer feels such urgency to tell the story that he or she doesn't have the time to enrich the language with metaphor, imagery, and the sounds of words. It may not seem to that writer as if he or she has the luxury of using all those literary tools, since the message is so immediate. 

So why not write that piece as prose memoir? Memoir and poetry can be extremely close. Some writing that may feel thin when written as poetry can make wonderful memoir. 

Poets often recount particularly intense moments from their lives, as do memoirists. But for writing to be poetry, it requires a different approach, an approach where the writer is determined to wrestle the experience into art, rather than simply to recount part of a life. Poetry also often focuses on a small moment of large significance, whereas memoir usually tells a story over a longer period of time.

A book that's useful to look at in this context is Linda McCarriston’s Eva-Mary, a collection of poetry that is deeply rooted in the poet’s family history.


Linda McCarriston
Eva-Mary is partly focused on the abuse that McCarriston and other family members experienced when the author was growing up. There is nothing prosy about the writing in this book. The experiences that McCarriston recounts are memoir, in the sense that she is testifying that she witnessed them, but they are also poetry in every sense of the word. The music of the language and McCarriston’s deft use of metaphor all contribute to make this book pure poetry:

                               her heart
the bursting heart of someone
snagged among rocks deep
in a sharkpool

(from “To Judge Faolain, Dead Long Enough: A Summons”)

McCarriston's book also tells the story of a family, but focused on particular, highly charged moments.

I don’t think that all autobiographical writing should be poetry, or that it should all be memoir. But it’s important to recognize when a piece of your writing wants to be a different genre from the one you are forcing it into. Often this happens when a poem should really be memoir.

This can also happen in reverse. A piece of prose can be so dense, so tangled with metaphor and imagery that it demands the breathing room of line breaks to be assimilated and appreciated. Or a memoir that is fixed on particular moments in time could work better as a series of poems.


One caution about switching a work to another genre. Once you switch, there are alterations you have to make. The demands of prose are different from the demands of poetry. A prose version of exactly the same story may require more elaboration, more development of certain details or characters. Some poetic diction may have to be purged in the interest of maintaining authenticity. 

Conversely, a verse version of a story may require focusing more on a particular moment. Poetry also requires more figurative language and more focus on the rhythms and sounds of the words, so even the most poetic prose will need heightening to make it sing when it is broken into lines.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Writers Learning from Other Professions: Baseball Players

Writers and athletes might not seem to have much in common, since one occupation is mostly cerebral, while the other is very physical. I do think writers can learn a lot from athletes, though. Athletes are also absorbed in a quest for excellence. Like writers, athletes are performers whose goal is not a performance, but a career-long struggle to do their best at their craft.

Baseball is the sport that I know better than any other, and there are two things about playing baseball well that seem valuable for writers. One of them is adjusting. To succeed at baseball, you have to make constant adjustments, sometimes in the space of one at-bat. When Barry Bonds was playing, I watched him hit many times at the San Francisco Giants’ beautiful waterfront ballpark. 


Part of Barry’s success was that he could adjust to a pitcher’s strategy incredibly quickly. If a pitcher got Barry to swing at a ball that was low and outside early in the count, Barry would just act cool, as if he had no idea what the pitcher was up to. Then, maybe after Barry had fouled off a pitch and taken a couple of balls, he would know what the pitcher and catcher were setting him up for. He knew they were hoping to sneak that same low, outside pitch by him for a swinging strike three. Barry just casually inched closer and closer to home plate with each pitch, so his bat could extend a bit farther, and the next time that pitcher threw him the same pitch Barry had hopelessly missed earlier in the at-bat, WHAM!—home run.

So, what does that have to do with lyric poetry? A lot, in my opinion. Just as batters have to adjust to what the pitchers are throwing them so they don’t make the same mistake twice, artists have to make constant adjustments. It doesn’t work to write the same book twice, or the same poem, short story, memoir  or essay twice, no matter how good it was the first time. The reader is already expecting a certain type of character, a certain tension, a certain ending. Writers have to continually vary the sounds, images, situations, characters, settings, tones, and/or points of view in their work. Otherwise their writing becomes stale, predictable, tired.

Another way that baseball and writing are similar has to do with confidence. If the same two teams play one another with the same two starting pitchers on the mound, the outcome can be completely opposite on two different days in the same baseball season. What is the difference? Many times, it has to do with confidence. The vital importance of confidence in baseball is something I’ve learned from listening to the San Francisco Giants’ broadcaster Mike Krukow, a former major league pitcher. 


Kruk, as he’s known to fans, always talks about how winning builds confidence in a team. That confidence allows them to play loose, relaxed, and with enjoyment. This prevents a hitter from pressing during an at-bat, trying to do too much, feeling the weight of expectations. The result of confidence is often success.


Again, what the heck does that have to do with writing the twist at the end of a short story? Well, it does have to do with writing—I think that when a writer is enjoying the process of creation, that fun can be reflected in the reader’s own enjoyment of the finished product. But this also has to do with reading one’s work out loud. So much of reading aloud has to do with confidence. If you stand in front of an audience and feel assured that your work is going to please and engage, that is a crucial part of giving a good reading. If you’re so nervous you could die, you’re not going to be able to connect to the audience of readers. But how do you gather confidence as a reader of your work? I think it’s a largely question of practice, and of writing work that you believe in, that you feel is important for you personally to deliver to an audience, or that you have fun reading to an audience.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anne Sexton as a Love Poet

Readers don’t normally think of Anne Sexton as a love poet. Confessional, yes. Powerful, definitely. Romantic? Not really. The author of poems such as “Her Kind” is better known for verses that show the grittier side of the psyche, rather than the smooth surfaces of love.

Anne Sexton 
Recently I stumbled across a book of hers I didn’t know, Love Poems, published in 1969, five years before Sexton’s death. This is not the face of Anne Sexton we usually see, as in the portrait on her Wikipedia page, staring off intently into space, looking slightly abstracted. Love Poems reveals a passionate Sexton, making a headlong effort to connect to other individuals:

Then I think of you in bed,
your tongue half chocolate, half ocean

from “Eighteen Days without You: December 11th

In Diane Middlebrook’s Anne Sexton: A Biography, Sexton is quoted in an interview as saying, “The love poems are all a celebration of touch…physical and emotional touch.” The sensuality in these poems is about linking deeply with another person.

Of course there is a confessional side to Sexton’s love poetry as well. This book is not about love in marriage, but her various affairs with men and with at least one woman. The lesbian poem, “Song for a Lady,” ends with this couplet, with its play on the word knead/need:

Even a notary would notarize our bed,
as you knead me and I rise like bread.

Nothing apologetic here about this affair with another woman.

The poems are often about missing an absent lover. Sexton’s “For My Lover, Returning to His Wife,” is the ultimate Other Woman poem, the language electrified by emotion. A mixture of compassion, admiration, and fury, the poem describes the wife the speaker’s lover retreats to:

           She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,

has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter’s wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo…

There is something a little too perfect about this ’60s Normal Rockwell domestic scene, particularly since we know that her lover was driven to escape it.

What struck me most about these love poems is that the image commonly presented of Anne Sexton as the madwoman—not in the attic but in the knotty-pine suburban den—is often not accurate. Sexton wrote verses of the greatest fulfillment, as well of poems of emotional desperation. Here, in full, is my favorite of Love Poems:

US

I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our bodies
(that room that will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room that will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed your
feet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.
Princess!

Oh then
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o’clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
we harvested.


I love the contrast between the snow outside and the hothouse lovemaking indoors, by the gold light of a fire or a sunset. Then there is the archaic language: crown, slave, princess, psalms, bridle, gold. The poem's diction has a formal dignity, which acts as a foil to enhance and ennoble the sensuality. What an image: “I beat down the psalms”! The repetition of the final phrase, “we harvested,” is such a triumph. Unlike many poems in the collection, there is no note of guilt or nostalgia in that ending, just fruition.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka

Monday, August 11, 2014

Noël Coward's Collected Stories

I recently came across Noël Coward’s The Collected Short Stories in the public library. I never knew that Noël Coward wrote short stories. I thought of him mainly as a delightful writer of plays, many of which were adapted for the movies, and as the author of screenplays for several films. Coward’s credits include the script of the play and movie Design for Living, as well as the play Private Lives and the script for the theater that was adapted into the wonderful movie Brief Encounter.
Noël Coward
Coward was a witty and knowing writer, so I thought I’d give his short stories a chance. I wasn’t disappointed. There are several wonderful selections in the book, but I’d like to highlight one that I think has an interesting message for writers, for artists of all sorts, and for practically anyone, come to think of it.
The first story in the collection, “Traveller’s Joy,” concerns a character named Herbert Darrell, an actor past his prime, staying in a theatrical boarding house in a provincial city in England. This could potentially be quite a sad story, since the actor has fallen on fairly hard times since his days as a romantic leading man in the West End of London. Darrell is now reduced to playing character roles in tours of the provinces in whatever play he can land a part.
The dilapidated boarding house where he is staying is owned by a middle-aged spinster with a hunchback, a Miss Bramble, not a glamorous leading lady by any means. Still, she plays an important role in the story, but more on that in a moment. 

We first see Herbert Darrell putting on his makeup for the evening’s performance, rehearsing in his memories his successes and failures in the theater and in love. Darrell may have slipped into a life that is a poor sketch of his former stardom, but he still has high points (not to mention several Guinesses) to float him over those moments when life’s failures swamp him with gloom.

Noël Coward then switches point of view in the story to Miss Bramble’s thoughts the next morning. (Coward, perhaps influenced by film, is very fluid in the way he approaches point of view in his stories.) We realize through her recollections that she ended up spending a night of passion with Herbert Darrell, who fell asleep while she slipped out of his room. Coward describes in a moving way how, for Miss Bramble, this night was literally once in a lifetime: “Again she shivered, this time with the sudden chill of clear realization that she wanted him again, that every nerve in her body was tingling with an agony of desire.”

Even though Darrell gives her a cold and piercing look when she returns with his breakfast in the morning, Miss Bramble was prepared for this snub. Nothing will prevent her from preserving this night in her memory like a delicious jam of summer figs, just as Darrell has nourished himself through his ups and downs in the theater with his recollections of glamorous opening nights and love affairs with stars.


The take-away for artists, writers, and others is this—life is full of the shoves and slices of the quotidian. What can sustain a writer through these wounds is to keep a recollection of first learning about an acceptance, seeing a new book in print, receiving words of gratitude after a reading, or hearing praise from an admired colleague. Those moments are easy to shrug off, overlook, or forget if we don’t think we deserve the acceptances or accolades, but the way to keep going is to genuinely savor and remember those small but important treats.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Writers’ Career Paths, Part 2: Peaking at the Beginning, Middle, or End?

The writer Joseph Heller published his first novel Catch-22 in 1961 at the age of 38. He went on to publish six more novels, as well as plays, screenplays, and two autobiographies. I have only read some of his later books, and Good as Gold was memorable, but I don’t think many readers would dispute that his first book was his best.

Joseph Heller with his family, not long after the publication of Catch-22
I knew Joseph Heller a little bit growing up. His daughter Erica and I were classmates and friends in our early teens. Joseph Heller was as funny as his books. Tall, broad-shouldered, he towered over most people. He used to describe himself as “The World’s Tallest Midget.” But I digress.

Publishing his best book first put Joseph Heller in excellent company. There was also Charlotte Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre at age of 31 before any of her other novels. J.D. Salinger authored many good books, but I think the consensus is that his first book, The Catcher in the Rye, is the classic of all his works.

Why would a writer create her or his best book right at the beginning of a career, before that person has the experience, maturity, and craft to polish a work to a shining finish? Sometimes that first great plot or narrator’s voice that gets a writer on the page is so good, it just can’t be outdone. Many writers who write their best book first keep trying to recreate that magic, but hey—writing one great book is nothing to sneeze at! How many have done it?

More common as a trajectory for writers is to produce the best books in mid-career. One great example of this is Virginia Woolf. She published her first book, The Voyage Out, in 1915 at the age of 33. In my opinion, Virginia Woolf never wrote a bad book, but she certainly hit her stride in the middle of her career, when she published in succession Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando, (1928), and A Room of One’s Own (1929). That has to be one of the best four-year runs in the history of literature. Her subsequent novels were also good, but, in my opinion, not up to that amazing mid-career burst.

There are many other examples of writers who warm up with a few books of fair to middling quality, then write their masterpiece(s), and finish a career with works that don’t quite measure up. In his early years Leo Tolstoy wrote three autobiographical novels that are rarely read. Those were the prelude to War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which he penned in middle age, but didn’t equal again in his later years, despite his fame. 

It makes sense that peaking in mid-career is the most common path—at this stage, the writer has acquired some chops, and has begun to discover which themes are closest to the heart. Energy and originality are still relatively easy to access.

Another familiar example of this trajectory is Gustave Flaubert, who wrote Madame Bovary in mid-career. But the author Dorothy Bryant argues in her play Dear Master based on the correspondence of Flaubert and George Sand that all his previous work led up to the exquisite novella “A Simple Heart,” which he wrote toward the end of his life.

Dorothy Bryant
That leads us to the third type of author, one who is striving to write a certain kind of book all his or her years, and realizes that ambition after many false starts, only at the end of a career. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke authored books of poetry from his adolescence, but one could argue that his greatest period was a stretch of only a few weeks in February 1922, four years before his death, when two of his most celebrated books poured out of him, almost as if dictated: Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus. At least, that is the legend that Rilke promoted, which was good business, since it gave those two later books a special status.

George Orwell wrote excellent nonfiction from the start of his career, but only his devoted fans (like me!) read his early fiction. Right at the end of his life, though, he wrote both Animal Farm and 1984, his two most famous and widely read works.


One can also see the rationale behind the career that climaxes in a best book or books. It can take a whole lifetime to get it right, to assemble the toolbox that a writer needs to build the dream house, the work that brings together the themes that eluded the author at a less mature stage, with all the craft it takes to realize that blueprint.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10
Putting Together a Book Manuscript, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8
Working with a Writing Mentor: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
How to Deliver Your Message: Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6
Why Write Poetry? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Using Poetic Forms, Part 1: Introduction; Part 2: The Sonnet; Part 3, The Sestina;
Part 4, The Ghazal; Part 5, The Tanka