MCWC board member,
Mendocino Quill's editor, a.k.a. The Maven
The Maven picked up a 1998 copy of Hayden’s Ferry Review, published by Arizona State University, Tempe, at a book sale to find an interview with Jean Valentine, author of seven plus books. “If I try to make things clear,” she says, “I often lose the poetry. . . . I want a sense of mystery, but I also want to be grounded somehow. I want to know what someone is talking about.” Still good advice, very relevant to The Maven, who too often begins in the middle and takes up the fringe settings later.
The opener to Poetry Magazine's June 2015 issue, “Two Rooms,” by Emily Berry, illustrates the concept; in just three lines there’s poetry, mystery, and grounding, from which the reader’s imagination may fly to parts unknown:
I went into one room and then I went into another.
From a May 2015 issue of Poetry, an essay by Donald Revell: “Allegory is a pageant of metaphor and simile. Trailing clouds of glory all its own, figurative language comes upon the scenes of our imagining there. No poet writing in English writes pageantry so in-close as does Robert Herrick.” Revell then gives us Herrick’s “The Coming of Good Luck,” a four-liner:
So Good-luck came, and on my roof did light,
Hearing it, feeling it, The Maven can almost taste good luck, ready to be licked off the leaves.
Novelist Lee Martin (The Bright Forever) says “My own experience with writing novels tells me that the first steps onto the page begin to lay out a trail I can follow as I go. I’m convinced we can learn to let our novels write themselves.” He quotes Henry James: The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting. Martin goes on to say “Perhaps the most important ingredient to the forward motion of a novel, then, is curiosity, not only for the reader but for the writer as well.” [From “Writers Ask,” No. 66, Winter 2015; Glimmer Train Press, Inc.]
The Maven has not tackled a novel, but she does enjoy reading those that keep her interest through an author’s creative intelligence, style, and focus; she has yet to find one that consists of only four lines, though some authors know how to extend and expand a four-line premise to go on for 220 pages of reiteration.
TO COMMENT, click on "Comments" above or below the post, then fill in the form, or click on "Reply" of another comment to add to that comment.
SHARE on your Facebook or Twitter, hit the buttons: