Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Draft: Finally the Sun

63º ~  whoo hoo, that's 63º at 8:30 a.m., a beautiful breeze coming in through all the windows, clear skies, and most of the trees beginning to leaf, the tiny leaf buds now distinct against the sky, cats & humans happy

It's a good day at the desk of the Kangaroo, Dear Readers.  As many of you know, last week's draft was derailed by the common cold.  However, I did get the title down last week and scribbled a few ideas.  I've had that title, "Fairy Tale for Girls Fooled by the Sun," in the back of my head all week, and last night before bed, I scribbled down a few more lines.  This morning I woke earlier than usual and I was so excited to get to the desk and my journal.  I started off with my lines from last week:

Once there was a girl who lived
in a land where the sun rose
and set in long increments.

Here's the deal.  In Iowa, I had a long-distance horizon, which meant great viewing of sunrises and sunsets.  Almost everywhere else that I've lived since then my view of the horizon has been foreshortened and the sunrise/set obscured by either trees, trees, trees or mountains, mountains, mountains (and trees).  There is a real difference between a slow sunrise/sunset and one that pops up out of nowhere, or at least that's how it feels to me.

In any case, back to the poem.  I started off with the lines above (and they remain the opening lines with a few tweaks), and I went on my merry way.  For some reason, the poem gravitated toward quatrains with lines of about 4 stresses, give or take.  What I want to say is that I drafted a page and a half of quatrains, but after about a third of those it all felt forced and far too narrative for my taste.  So, I took a deep breath and highlighted only the first three stanzas, copying them into a new document.  While I'd spent time and energy on the stanzas I didn't keep, that wasn't wasted.  I learned which way not to go.  Also, when I started the poem, I didn't have a clear sense of how the girl was going to be fooled by the sun, of what her transformation was going to look like.  That first attempt didn't work out, but it somehow sparked the answer.

Once I started over, I did so with a more focused intent on combining lyric and narrative.  Also, without my really thinking about it, my reading of the Grimm tales seemed to work through the poem.  (Ooooo, last night an evil stepmother got put in a vat of boiling oil and question is did the snakes fry too?)  While I'm uneasy about personifying natural things like the sun, I did so, a bit.  So the sun takes an interest in the girl and sends a cardinal to her with a message.  In the Grimm tales, it's usually a raven, but since my tales are set in the upper Midwest, and this one in winter, the cardinal seemed more natural I'm guessing, as I didn't once consider the raven.

In my past Fairy Tale/Cautionary Tale/Haunting Tale poems, the girl has been transformed by fire, water, blizzard, tornado, &etc.  This time, she is consumed by the sun.  While I'm feeling a bit uncertain about the whole poem, I think that will remain. 

This is exactly the image I had in my head as I wrote.  Honestly, if you remove the power lines, this could have been taken from my view of the sunset as a child.  Check out this website for more awesome Iowa photos.
Oh, and two weeks ago, I talked about the challenge, to me, of writing longer short poems (not true long poems).  This one is officially 1 and 1/2 pages: 15 quatrains.  Woah, that's 60 lines by my calculation, twice and three times my normal poem length.  Perhaps I feel a bit uncertain b/c I'm not used to the length and I worry about keeping the reader's interest and keeping the language sharp and the sounds cohesive.  Because this is narrative, I had to repeat some words a bit: girl, sun, etc.  For some reason, I don't like doing this.  It may go back to a Form & Theory of the Novel class where I learned that Flaubert would go over his pages and circle repetitions and look for other phrases.  Or I could be making that up.  Somebody comment if you know for sure.

One last thing:  somewhere this past week I added a new type of tale for my Midwest girl:  The Legend of...  Perhaps that will be next week, and oh, next week is Spring Break!  Woo Hoo!


Tawnysha Greene said...

Glad you are feeling better and the writing is coming along well! Enjoy your Spring Break!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Tawnysha. Hope you feel better soon! Sorry it made it's way to you all the way over there in TN!

Kathleen said...

Yay for the sun and poem drafts, and legends! We had the sun here yesterday, and have a darker sky here today. Nice temps.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Glad your temps are warming up, Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by!

Molly said...

"While I'd spent time and energy on the stanzas I didn't keep, that wasn't wasted. I learned which way not to go."

I'm pinning this above my writing desk.

I know exactly what you mean about the slow sunset..... although in my own landscape they were over water, not fields.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Molly, glad you found that comment helpful. And thanks for understanding the sunsets.

Nancy Devine said...

my horizon is huge here in north dakota, something that never ceases to amaze me.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Nancy, while I'm not envious of the winter weather, I am envious of your horizon & sky!