At least it’s not in iambic pentameter

I love sonnets. I love their concision, their meter, their turns, their couplets. I love how you have to bust your ass to say just a bit more than you would in a haiku, but quite a bit less than you would if you were writing a longer poem. And you have to do it all in meter, and rhyme (although I often rejected rhyme) in high heels and backwards.

Some of my best poems are sonnets. This is probably because you have to work and work and work to get it right. You have the perfect image, but it isn’t in the right meter, not even slightly. So you have to come up with something even better, or find a new way to describe the perfect image. Or you get a great line, in perfect meter, with the rhyme just right (or wrong, depending on how you roll), but it isn’t what you thought the poem was about. So you change your fucking ending because there is no way line 8 is going to scan otherwise.

Pick a line, try it, reject it, try again.

I think my book is a sonnet. No, I think writing a book is like writing a sonnet. I am totally fettered by form and shape. And I’m taking risks. Writing a sonnet is risky. Your poetry buddies will tell you that you should just take the poem out of form, that form is inhibiting you. Sometimes they are right. Other times, however, it’s that you need to keep working until the poem does fit the form. This is where I am with the book.

The latter third is stilted, confused, not very well written, and possibly not even thought out enough. But today, at least, I feel like it is the right ending for the book. I just have to keep pushing to get the writing there, to earn the form, the ending, the subject matter, to make it all work.

The first two people to see my project before it was even a project told me to cut the scene about the atomic bomb. (I didn’t even make that up for anonymity.) They were right at the time; however, almost four years later I’ve written myself into a place where I can bring the atomic bomb back in. It fits.

What’s your atomic bomb?

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3 responses to “At least it’s not in iambic pentameter

  1. A good sonnet sings (or, apparently, sails). And I think form helps me function, too.

    I haven’t reached my atomic bomb, yet . . . though I’ve just figured out how to get a cell phone to function the way I want it—in a scene, not in real life, of course—without resetting the story several years in the future. But that was more of a landmine.

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