Shawn L. Bird

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

poem-inaccurate January 31, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:37 am
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You hear a story

and cling to this narrative,

gripping each element as deep truth

fundamental reality

excuse for your frailty

But it’s fiction

and no matter how loudly you shout

your warped interpretation

insist that white is black,

it won’t transform into fact.

It will only dance to a rhythm of jack boots,

and the sounds of breaking glass.

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poem-bangles August 20, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:44 pm
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Three brass bangles

Two copper bangles

Artisan wrought

a mature gift to a teenaged babysitter

who couldn’t quite pull them off,

but they stayed in the jewelry box a fond memory

of adorable little boys, a polished professional couple, and a spotless, earthy home.

Enter small daughter to whom the jewelry box

was full of magic, and bangles were magic rings set for a journey.

Journey they did!

What mystical adventure were the copper bangles on for a decade or two?

Four houses later they re-appear in my jewelry box.

If only they could talk.

 

quote- loud stories October 20, 2014

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:16 pm
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The more she wrote, the louder the stories seemed to grow, swirling in her mind, pressing against her head, anxious for release.  She didn’t know whether they were any good and in truth she didn’t care.  They were hers, and writing them made them real somehow.  Characters who’d danced around inside her mind grew bolder on the page.  They took on new mannerisms she hadn’t imagined for them, said things she didn’t know they thought, began to behave unpredictably.

Kate Morton The Forgotten Garden p. 326

 

the fundamental fiction July 13, 2013

In love with a fictional character?

Honey.

Don’t you know that

ALL

objects of our desire

are fundamentally fictional?

Courtship

is a time of great performance,

convincing the other,

showing the best face,

doing things you’ve never done

(and won’t do again)

pretending you love each moment

to impress the object of your desire.

Love is always

fictional.

We love what we wish

it to be.

If we’re lucky,

when rose lenses are lost,

what we created in dream

bears enough

resemblance to reality

that truth

becomes better

than fiction.

.

.

In response to a Tweet about all the wild Outlander fans in a tizzy about Jamie Fraser coming to life.  I was thinking how we fictionalize real people all the time.

 

sensory sex writing: tips from Diana Gabaldon May 18, 2013

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:22 pm
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Diana Gabaldon posted on Facebook today that she’s writing an ebook about writing sex scenes.  As an example, she posted a selection that appeared to contain most of the “How to Write Sex Scenes” article she wrote for Chatelaine that she has posted on her website .  If the title of this post drew you here, and you just want to hear how to write sex scenes, head right to that article.

Her  basic premise is that sex scenes are about emotional connectiveness, not the sexual act, so a sex scene isn’t about the sex, it’s about something else, and there are ways to amp up the emotional quotient of a scene to show that.  She advocates the Rule of Three: include three senses in the descriptions and the scene will be rich and evocative.

In the ensuing comments, Diana made some interesting observations that I’ve been pondering.  Teacher Patricia Davis said she coaches her students to follow the methods Diana espouses and Diana responded,

Diana on writing emotion

 “the key to writing strong emotion is restraint.  You actually don’t write “about” emotion, you just show it happening.  You don’t want to get between the reader and the emotion, is what it comes down to, so the writing can’t show.”

It’s the old adage about showing not telling.  Show the emotion, don’t tell about it, but don’t show it in such a way that the writing is apparent.  Like cameras and microphones appearing  in the frame in your t.v. shows, if the writing technique is obvious, it kills the magic of the illusion.

I have to confess, the more workshops I take on writing, and the more authors I interact with, the pickier I become as a reader.  I know what should be done and whether I manage to do it in my own work (fingers crossed!) I want excellence in what I read now.  Like an amateur magician, I’m harder to fool and less tolerant of incompetence.

There are tricks and tips out there like the Rule of 3 that she outlines in the article.  Writing isn’t magic.  You don’t put things on the page and have them perfect immediately.  Writing is a craft, and you must practise it in order to be good at it.  To a compliment about her writing and observations by Magsasakang Pinoy, who said if he wrote, he’d follow her suggestions, she responded,

Diana on writing

“There are really two parts to writing fiction: finding the story, and then getting it from your head onto the page, in such as  way that it arrives more or less intact in the reader’s head <g>  I don’t know that you can teach anyone how to tell stories, but you can certainly teach them the craft of putting words on a page.”

It’s a little like Oz requesting we “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  But even if we know ‘how’ we can still be manipulated by a master hand wielding the craft to create the magic.   A weak writer will have us stalking up to pull back the curtain and shout, “Ah ha!  I knew it!” but a strong writer will leave us happily suspending our disbelief as the magic unfolds.  When the scene is over we blink happily back to real life, and savour the mastery we’ve just experienced, even more impacted than the non-writer reader, because writers know just how skillfully we’ve been manipulated (and we LOVE it when it happens!).

We are so lucky to live in a time when writers can use social media to interact with their readers, and when it is so easy to give and to receive coaching and encouragement!  I am thankful and awed on a daily basis.

(Thanks for staying with me.  Now go read Diana’s article if you haven’t already, and I’ll get back to editing Grace Awakening Myth.  I need to use that Rule of Three in a few places!).  🙂

 

 

poetry or prose? April 2, 2013

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:38 am
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So what’s your preference?

The last few weeks I’ve had a focus on poetry on the blog, as a bit of an experiment.

Now that it’s National Poetry Month, in my typical contrary fashion, I will be switching to prose.

This is because I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month.  Instead of the punishing 50,000 word goal of November’s event, Camp allows us to pick our own goals, and I’m going for 25k, which should be much more easily accomplished.  I will count blogs, articles, and fiction in one jumble of word count, and separate them out later.

My question is, what do you like to read here?  Do you prefer poetic ramblings, or commentary?  Do you like fiction samples or pings of other people’s amazing work?

I’m eclectic, but in the blog world, niches are good.  It’s easy for your audience if you’re consistent in your offerings.  It’s hard for me, because niches bore me.

Help me decide my direction and give me your opinon.  What is your favourite thing on shawnbird.com?

 

Fictional truths March 3, 2013

March is Literacy Month in the world of Rotary, and there is an interesting article in this month’s  The Rotarian magazine.  It quotes cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley saying,

…reading more fiction enables you to understand other people better.  Fiction is about exploring a range of circumstances and interactions and characters you’re likely to meet.  Fiction is not a description of ordinary life; it’s a simulation.

Well, duh.  Any writer could tell you that.  My husband, who has a psychology degree, vets my characters and makes sure I am keeping consistent psychological profiles and responses.  I write teen fantasy, mind you.  Even those of us crafting fictional worlds do so with care.

Our worlds are crafted to give our readers an opportunity to explore another life, other responses, other realities.

I find it vaguely amusing that the professional business world may not have realised that there is a reason literature is in the curriculum.  It would behove more of our leaders to pay close attention to the lessons of Orwell’s 1984, for example.  A more well-read population should also be quicker to recognise the danger signs they’ve seen in literature.  That’s why I’m a high school English teacher.  Along side the history teachers, I aim to provide warnings and inspiration.  To raise the next generation to see with clear eyes and communicate their vision with well-chosen words.

Later in the article they quote Oatley quoting Aristotle, “History…tells us only what has happened, whereas fiction tells us what can happen, which can stretch our moral imaginations and give us insights into ourselves and other people.”  He adds that fiction “measurably enhances our abilities to empathize with other people and connect with something larger than ourselves.”

Hear. Hear.

.

Work cited:

Bures, Frank.  “The Truth about Fiction.” The Rotarian.  Vol 191 No. 9  March 2013.  pp.29-30.

PS. It behoves me to mention that ‘behove’ is the British spelling of ‘behoove.’

 

 
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