Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-interpretation February 6, 2018

The Lord of All Knowledge,

Gatekeeper of Truth,

says the poem means this.

Generations of readers bow

before this wisdom,

even though they don’t see it,

can’t believe it,

they just accept it.

When the poet reads

the critic’s piece,

she laughs and laughs

at the irony of such arrogant


Oh, student!

Good reader!

There are no errors

of interpretation in poetry!

Your experiences show you a meaning,

and if you can find lines to support,

your responses are just as valid as any critic’s.

(So the famous poet said to me,

and he should know).


poem- kill the critic October 29, 2013

Kill the critic:

let him drown in the

flow of your words.

Kill the critic:

let him sear in the

molten eruption

from the core of you.

Kill the critic:

let him smother

gasping against the tide

of your creativity,

.grasping at the emptiness

that was your insecurities.

Kill the critic:

be free.



NB: I do not advocate murder of anything but the inner voice that tells you that you’re inadequate.  Your inner critic has no business in your writing head-space.   You can’t edit a blank page.


critic? October 11, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:15 am
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I am not a critic; to me criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.

Djuna Barnes. “The Songs of Synge: The Man Who Shaped His Life as He Shaped His Plays”, in New York Morning Telegraph (18 February 1917)

I love a lot of books.  Some the critics hate, but I have forged connections with them, and so they speak to me.  Some books, the critics love, and I hate with an abiding passion.  100 Years of Solitude is one.    I don’t relate to any of it, and the fact that half the characters have the exact same name is exasperating.

I love the Twilight Saga.  At present, it’s not cool to admit that, and someone who is an English teacher is supposed to be distracted by the poor writing.  I didn’t find anything so terrible that it distracted me from the story.  The story and the characters I could relate to.  I recognized the dilemmas and the challenges.  I respected the characteristics that don’t meet the societal norms.   I loved them, critics (or cool kids) be damned.

Someone did a poll on Twitter asking whether we want to be critically admired or on a best seller list.  I’m not sure that the two concepts are mutually exclusive, but I would be quite delighted with readers over awards.  On the other hand, I’d be very proud of awards.  We write to be read, though.  If our words speak to the people, but are panned by the critics, then perhaps the critics are out of touch?

What about you?  Would you rather be read or lauded?  Do you read books recommended by the critics or by your low-bred friends?

(Lord David, you can’t answer than one, since I’m sure all your friends are high-bred!) ;-P


be bad May 19, 2012

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:54 pm
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A colleague of mine was telling me yesterday that she wants to write.  She is terribly impressed that I have written these books.  She would like to write a play.


But she hasn’t.


Because she gets in the way.  She doesn’t know which direction to take a scene in, so she takes it neither direction.  She doesn’t know how many characters to use, so she has none.  She has so many things, that she has nothing.

I told her that she should give herself permission to write a crappy play.  If she can free herself from the idea that what she has written must be good, she can actually write SOMETHING.  Once there is something on the page, you can edit it into something better.  If there is nothing on the page, well, there’s nothing!

I read that Diana Gabaldon wrote Outlander as a practice novel.  She thought she’d try writing a novel, and since no one was ever going to see it, she could do whatever crazy thing struck her fancy.  She gave herself permission to have fun with the experience, and she did.

When you give yourself permission to be bad, you give yourself permission to take risks.  Let the voices in your head go nuts.  Catch what they say.  Don’t think about it.  Don’t worry if it’s ‘right’ or if it’s ‘good.’

Just let it BE.

Try writing the same thing from different characters’ perspectives.  Try different narrative styles.  You need to put the time in and explore the process.  You will find something interesting, but you won’t if you don’t let it happen.

Give yourself 15 minutes.  Tell the inner critic to leave you alone, and just write.  Don’t stop yourself from achieving your dreams.  Don’t be your own enemy.

Write it.


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