I was performing some file cleanup this morning when I came across several lines that I'd written at various times during the past year. Most were random thoughts, or fragments that I thought I could work into poems at a later date. As much as I still like many of these lines, I'm still unable to create anything worthwhile out of them.
This set me to wondering: What do other writers and poets do with fragments? How long do you keep them? What was the longest period between writing a line and actually using it in a poem?
All comments are welcome.
Joseph, I guess I'm just a spur of the moment guy. If I don't use a "brain storm" within a week, it's probably lost. I seldom write anything down in advance of actually sitting down to write a poem. My revision process may take a week, or so.
The longest I've put an idea on hold is one month. That usually occurs when I'm busy, or preoccupied with something else.
Post Edited (05-29-04 14:09)
I have literally hundreds of scribbled fragments and ideas lying around all the time, waiting for a muse to pass by and inspire me to completion. Here is a scrap of paper chosen at random, for example:
Proper young ladies lie quite (not what I like)
Inflatable dateable sateable
Rock Hudson had plenty of class
But he loved a hard ... (well never mind)
Sold soul to devil (revel level)
There was a young lady named twat (wait, I finished that one)
They tell me the taste is delicious
Leda would take a gander
Pelican/helican = Dixod Merritt
Anaconda Porlock Bysshe (I wonder what that was)
Abbey Christine I may have created a scene
Eliot - mill on the floss
Casabianca - who?
Right up his alley - Wilde?
Mohammed prophet 13 yr-old wife?
Boff it scoff it
There's certainly no statute of limitations on self-inspiration!
Composers, too, sometimes keep notebooks full of melody fragments, rhythm ideas, things they'd like to set to music, etc. And a lot of artists have sketchbooks that they keep forever and look into when in search of images.
Hugh, I would hate to see your garage!
A few of these lines did intrigue me, however. This one for instance:
Abbey Christine I may have created a scene
I met Christine near an abbey,
our friendship was not at all shabby
I took her to dine,
we sipped on some wine
but I lost her to an erudite cabby
Post Edited (05-19-04 21:20)
I foolishly don't write them down...i try to remember but that doesn't always work, especially as years go by and my head fills up with useless info.
Nothing wrong with keeping the thoughts for years, it's not like they would take up a lot of room.
Joseph......I have cousins named Torelli.....Peter and Louis, their father's name is Savino (americanized to Dick, which wouldn't have been MY first choice!) , with a brother Louis. Their mom re-married Luigi Purita later in life in the 1940's
I think I can help you with one of your lines in search of a poem. How about:
Leda would take a gander,
Priscilla would opt for a moose,
Lola the loose-moraled starlet,
Could always be had with a goose.
Splendid! Teach me to leave morsels around for you folks.
There once was a blonde named Melinda
Who scheduled her daily agenda
With time for a break
To finger the ache
That throbbed in her juicy pudenda.
Melinda = agenda? no...
Against my better judgment, Hugh, I'm going to let you in on something. MILENDA is also a woman's name. I know of two women with that name. One is Czech, so I suppose it's a Czech name. The other is Korean, and her mother knew that Melinda was an American name, but she thought it sounded better the other way.
I would also agree with everyone else. It is like a work of art you paint a little and a little more, you leave it age a while longer and come back to it and add the final touches and whalah! A masterpiece!
One more Hugh, then I'll leave your list to your leisure:
They tell me the taste is delicious.
So at the risk of being pernicious,
I find that those cherries they laud
Are seldom found ripe and unflawed;
Despite a few tarts quite suspicious.
Post Edited (05-29-04 05:15)
Remember, Joet--you asked for this!
I kept a writer’s journal for years–just the kind of fragments you mention. The sometimes monumental changes in my ‘real’ life are scarcely mentioned, but there are writerly fragments, ideas for stories and poems, possible titles, interesting things I heard or read. I made copies of this journal and gave it to my daughters for Christmas one year. I’m sure they would have preferred a check.
“It is noteworthy that the same proportion of elements, although much diluted, appears in human blood plasma and tears as appears in sea water.”
The razor ache of gentleness...
I tighten into a simplicity so strong I can understand the color of your eyes...
All the people who have compromised in terrible ways, who go on as best they can...
You’re learned to speak body language with the wrong accent...
The needlefish is edible, but characteristically has green bones...
There is a price to pay for a green country...
They ask the wrong questions about a trout...
Do flies have blood?
Hills shambled along the horizon and collapsed into a valley...
Go to the roots of pain and test the soil there...
Story idea. Woman wearing a pink bikini with a 8" hunting knife strapped to her thigh says: “I can kill it for you wholesale...”
Where do my loyalties lie? More pertinently, why do they lie?
Poor people cherish living things. Wealthy people cherish objects. Cherishing is a matter of economics.
The rhododendron outside the window is budding already. No need to pluck the old blooms. It can handle flowering by itself.
I wait for my roots to discover me.
The only people she had ever loved weren’t ‘functional...’
You can’t believe in something with only your voice.
He would probably be reincarnated as a field of alfalfa....
The heart’s dead are never buried....
Just one of anything is seldom enough, except for Susan’s progeny...
He had the look of a man who never rode the bus.
I am a door,
Step through me:
It’s always sweeter in writing, signed.
I could go on. And on. And on.
Hugh and NCW, but when do you plan to get back to these abandoned phrases? I write nothing down (for future reference) because I know myself well enough to know if I don't use it now, I will never use it.
you are adorable !
who on earth but you !
I was like - what ?! for a couple of minutes ...
"windmills of your mind" ... now I get it !
Les, a few scraps just needed to season a while before becoming something larger, most are simply clutter. Words don't take up much storage room, though. Like the rock collection and the flowers, I forgive them for not being useful.
I write music though I guess there are a lot of crossovers between that and writing poetry.
Often my inspiration comes in just a 1 or 2 line fragment (rarely the whole thing at once). I record what I've got and all of this accumulates. Then after a while I'll go back and expand on the fragment.
This often enables me to come up with other lines on the same theme and hey presto a new piece is produced.
I find it frustrating sometimes when I feel I've said everything I want to say and feel the need to expand to produce material of a suitable length, although often in the process other gems will be uncovered.
I'm interested in this topic because I do it myself.
I will have to come down on NCW's side of the fence (with the rocks and flowers) because I would lose too much doing it Les's way.
I think it's a lot like never stepping into the same river twice. It's not so much that the IDEA has changed (not that much) but I have changed a bit in how I perceive it.
It would be interesting to see what some long-forgotten tid-bits would stir up in you, Les.
How many people here actually step into (real) rivers. I do. I'll bet NCW has.
Jack, it's not that I couldn't make something out of the tidbits which are saved, and I too used to do that when I was in my 20's. It's just that by now I know that if I don't act on an idea, the brain storm it spawned has passed and I simply don't have the SAME idea that came to mind originally.
A lot of my ideas for poems occur as I'm driving in my car, or watching TV. They could happen at anytime. If I don't have time to write something down, at least a verse or two, within a couple of days of this "great" idea, I just let it go until another great idea comes along.
There are exceptions to this, for instance, I have an idea in the works about Tesla, the inventor, which has been around for a while and still hasn't brought
forth a poem, but it will eventually. I have nothing written down about this. I just know that I want to write something about the man.
I, as you, have so many fragments that I've stored in partially-filled journals. Some I recall writing; others, I have no idea when, or from where they came. I've gotten somewhat out of the habit, lately, and that's a shame, because I rather enjoy reading through the old journals (some of the stuff is really hideously lame, if I can let you in on a secret). What I regret most, though, is not writing down enough stuff, even in earlier times. I'm sure I created some truly astonishing gems along the way, that I've simply forgotten because I failed to record them. I like your idea of presenting the whole thing to your children as a gift. I can assure you, they will cherish it in the years to come.
Get a pencil and get writing! You have some great things to say when you actually say them....I wonder what's been left unsaid??? Often, the words come without any accompanying "brainstorm." The brainstorm may come later, or it may never come, but it seems a shame to lose a thought that was obviously inspired from somewhere within.
I admire your work ethic. Fighting through the frustation to create art is difficult and requires great energy. But think of the satisfaction when you complete something of which you're truly proud....and the double satisfaction when others admire it as well.
Keep wading. The experience of discovery is always worthwhile.
Greetings! This is my first post here.
There is never a time limit on when I might use archived fragments. Usually I find that a line will stay in my mind turning over and over until it evolves itself into an eventual poem.
I think that once these initial thoughts are born they have a natural tendency to seek expansion and transition into existence.
Post Edited (05-31-04 06:13)
Welcome aboard, "Ray."
I am interested in the rest of this poem, who wrote it and its meaning?
Before the harvest after the flowers have bloomed when new grapes are budding and growing
I assume you live in Tampa. Did it appear in your mailbox? If so, you're not alone. Check this link for some of your neighbors' reactions. We have no idea what's going on.
PS Posting a question once is sufficient.
They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes.
It had been strange, even in a dream
to have seen those dead men rise.
I am trying to find this poem. Please can you help me. with very many thanks Debbie
Mime of the Ancient Rariner, Camuel Soleridge.
I thought it was Silas Mariner !
Yo no soy marinero !