Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

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Location: North Carolina, United States

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Begin at the Beginning/Middle/End

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

A mostly irrelevant quote, courtesy of Lewis Carroll- I just can't help it! Anyhow...

I apologize for my extended absence; again, school has taken more than its share of my time. I'm currently preparing to play the Baker in our choir's production of Into The Woods (certainly one of my favorite musicals- I love fairy tales, and Into The Woods is quite the creative fusion of several popular fairy tales, courtesy of Stephen Sondheim). However, though the blog has suffered, I am past my writer's block (thank goodness), having written a few sonnets this past month. Anyhow, enough about me-

A brief first point- Dan Schneider notes two distinctly different types of writers- sculptors and builders. A sculptor writes to excess about an idea, then chips away at their piece, removing or reworking unnecessary or ineffective portions until the final form is reached. A builder writes more carefully from the get-go, often making changes during the creation of the first draft, and is left with very little excess to trim once the piece reaches its completion. Neither is better- the two are simply different. As a point of curiosity, I am a builder.

We've now established that there are two types of writers. Now, a second point- a work of art begins with an idea. What a remarkably dumb and obvious thing to say, Neil! True. But, where do you place the idea? A piece can start from any point- a standard A-B-C progression isn't the only way to go. Let's narrow the scope and look at poetry, for two reasons: firstly, I know more about poetry than I do about other art forms, and secondly, poetry is written (abstract building blocks are easier to shuffle around), and it's also tighter and (generally) shorter than prose.

Just as there are different types of writers, there are different ways to begin a poem. The first fragment of a poem isn't necessarily the first line; a great idea for an ending or middle line or couplet also makes for a fine starting point. A C-A-B or B-C-A progression in the creation of a poem is just as good as an A-B-C progression; our job as writers is, after all, to rearrange letters of the alphabet ~_^ While I certainly can't pick out the original fragment of another person's poem, I posit that different writers have a tendency to start in different places. I tend towards coming up with end lines or couplets, then starting from the top, with the final phrase already in place. Occasionally, the original phrase doesn't even survive; the entire poem at its completion may even have a completely different meaning than initially intended. However, that's where my starting point usually lies, and the most difficult part of writing a poem, at least for me, is beginning. Once I have something to work off of, the task is much less daunting.

The differences in approach that are imperceptible to the audience contribute to the uniqueness of a quality writer's work. I'm going to leave off with that statement, with every intention of elaborating in my next post. Take care 'til next,

~Neil

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Short Counter

Anthony posted a short poem on his blog, so I thought I'd follow along. Of course, length is the only thing our two poems have in common, but hey~

~~~

On Writing Poetry

When writing poetry, brevity is bliss.
That said, I think I’m done writing this.

~~~~~~~

Not much, but okay for blogging. I'm going to quickly excuse myself from this post. I hope everyone's well-

Take Care,
~Neil

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Gold of Memories

Sometime last year, I had to do a practice TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) test. For the writing portion of the test, students are required to write an essay based on a prompt. These prompts are notorious for being dull and uninspiring. The gist of the prompt I had to write toward for this practice test was something like this:

"Write about how a place can be special to a person."

Ugh. Are you serious? That's either a subject for a few lines or an entire psychology book; not 1-2 pages. Of course, they have to make these prompts very simple and open so that even the most backwards student can write for it and stand a chance of passing (I don't say this to be mean, it's just the truth). They didn't always have an essay in the test, and they need to get rid of it; a state-issued test intended for the entire student body doesn't need to include something difficult and subjective like an essay. Anyhow, I decided that I might as well have a little fun since I had to write something, so I wrote this:

LAEvaside: If you, by chance, skipped the last couple paragraphs, this is not a serious essay. It's a *joke* (though I did actually turn it in and everything). [/laevaside]

~~~

The Gold of Memories

       Most places – the doctor’s waiting room, the downtown police department, the deli down the street – do nothing more than serve their purpose, accommodate who and what they are meant to accommodate. For every person, however, there are places that do more than that; there are places that serve as vessels for memories or emotions, giant time capsules that open at every visit, every stay. They contain people and events no longer present and offer that one special person a chance to break back into the past and relive better times.
       Those special people in our lives, those remarkable individuals that mark us with a fire that leaves us no chance of forgetting them – some of them remain with us, while others conclude their stay, either by the road or by the grave. For those who leave, we dedicate a portion of our hearts; however, memories grow weary and fade as time distances the present and the past. To visit a place where a memory resides is to rekindle a decaying time and give it life; a normal site becomes an array of paints at the right person’s visit, a flurry of colors on the canvas of the mind that brings new ardour and vibrance to a fading portrait of a past face, a past friend. The wonder of such a place is like no other, a wonder personal and unshared with others, who may cast weary eyes upon that magnificent site and remain weary, unchanged by the glory known only by one.
       "We do not remember days; we remember moments." Specific events, even moreso than people, reside in tiny crevices of the world, unbeknownst to all but their creators. These unique happenings are encapsuled in the mind; however, as the years increase, the clarity of memory decreases, and questions fester like sores: "Did she smile? Did she laugh?" "Were the flowers blue or gold?" And yet, at a simple visit to the site, a torrent of answers charms the mind and the spirit is freed from its blistering wounds, like a leper at the holy touch. Certainly, all others will arrive at the place and leave unaffected, but for the one who knows its secret, its value is immeasurable.
       The grand people and events of the past remain in ghostly fragments where they once resided, enriching these places, lacing them with untouchable gold. Yet, unlike the fickle gold of leprechauns that resides at the ends of impossibly distant rainbows, the gold of memories is true and invaluable to those who are able to harvest it, and its vast mines are well within reach, whether they are oceans distant, miles away, or right around the corner.

~~~~~~~

I have nothing to add to that.

Oh, by the way- I added a new section to my sidebar, for links that aren't related to art. Some of the webcomics I added are delightfully clever (thanks to Jeff S. for directing me to xkcd and Dinosaur Comics). Finally, it's April. It's a shame I missed April Fools'- I didn't even realize what day it was until it was almost over. Anthony and Jess both did April Fools' posts.

I hope you are all well- take care 'til next time,

~Neil