Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back to Basics, Reading Your Own Work, and The Poetry of Food

I was recently gifted a book called “Back to Basics”, confirming the fact that I know no absolutely nothing of practical use. Chapter titles include “Processing Your Timber into Hand-Hewn Beams”, “Creating a Homestead out of Sun-Dried Mud”, and “Setting Up Shop as a Beekeeper”. The book is full of detailed instructions on things like welding your own chain, churning butter out of “your farm-fresh cream”, and how to construct a small-diameter well. It’s both anachronistic and deeply intimidating. If there is such a thing as past lives, I’m pretty sure I died by my own hand as pioneer woman on the way to the homestead, flinging myself over a bridge in an attempt to avoid a life of barn-raising and grassland management. It’s all well and good to know how to build an access road and principles of traditional stonemasonry, but it’s completely irrelevant to my daily life. I’m going to write my own Back to Basics book that covers things like how to broker personality conflicts between your volunteers, how to sidestep clipboard-bearing sidewalk lobbyists, constructing a makeshift hairband out of binder clips and rubber bands, and principles of bribing the IT department to replace your 11-year old computer work station.

For the first time since completion, I read my entire novel in one sitting yesterday, looking for plot holes, narrative flow issues, and other red flags. It was interesting. There is way too much eye-rolling going on, that I can tell you. It cannot be my main character’s incessant go-to. I will be removing many instances of eye-rolling. But overall, I’m relieved. I think I need some guidance on the narrative structure of the last third of the book, but I didn’t find the major issues I feared I would. Of course, I’m so close to it I have no idea what it needs at this point. It’s time for a little distance and an outside perspective. Interestingly, since I’ve finished the novel, I’ve had a few ghostly whispers of poem ideas lingering around my ears. Perhaps poetry is coming back to me now that I have this story out of my system.

Speaking of poetry, on Thursday, November 6th, I will participating in a poetry reading organized by the preeminent David D. Horowitz, owner of Rose Alley Press! The name of the event is "Luscious Lyrics: A Smorgas-bard of Writing about Food." My fellow readers will be Nancy Dahlberg, Martha Silano, Joannie Stangeland, and David D. Horowitz. There will be free food, folks! Come on out and enjoy some poetry, good nosh, and lively company!

When: Thursday, November 6th, at 7 p.m.


Where: Room 202 of The Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North.

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment:

John Socrates said...

Great post, as always, though you had a field day with commas and periods outside the quotation mark. The Early of Oxford is sending computer gremlins to punish you! lol