Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Write On

(This post speaks in a voice all it's own when paired with the song, "Unwritten," #5 on the playlist, so please go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I have recently been reading the poetry of Ogden Nash. If you have never heard of him or read his poems, Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore or Ogden Nash poetry website (Hello, Google!) to get a brainful of goodness. I recommend "Columbus," and "Come on in, the Senility's Fine," among others.
His poems make me smile, they make me laugh out loud. He's got his own bumpy style, meter, rhyme, and made up words. It's always his own voice, though. His simple life observations are brilliant, in a "why didn't I see that," or"why did I never say that myself?" sort of way. In fact, you may find yourself wanting to bang your head against the wall at the simple perfection of his words, so frustrated may you be that you did not write that very thing you just read. It seems so...Simple. it is just so very right there in front of your face, do you know what I mean?? Do you even KNOW that feeling I am describing here?
What people don't understand is that it takes a lot of talent and skill to write in such a fashion. No one can imitate Ogden Nash, his meter is sometimes inconsistent, but it works for him; it still sounds deliberately like his own voice, like someone who's voice is scratchy, and misses in spots.
People think Dr. Seuss is easy, too, but it's not. It's brilliant. His genius is always his own, his meter and made up words his own. Others have tried to write books in his style, and they are terribly NOT the great Dr.'s work. They are not even close.
They can't EVEN touch this.
-That last sentence I just wrote there is the great M.C. Hammer's original work, (except I took the liberty of adding the word "EVEN") and he was right, you can't touch his work, or that of Ogden Nash, or that of Dr. Seuss. You just can't. Because it's not your own. Don't even try. Well, okay, try, if that's what you need to do to prove to the world and yourself that you cannot do it. We will collectively roll our eyes at you and refuse to buy your book. You cannot talk in someone else's voice.
Now my darlings, please understand; you can be inspired by someone else, because it resonates inside of you with something that was already there, and now you have an example of how to execute that thing that was inside of you. Take inspiration from as many great writers as possible, but be sure that what comes out of you was what was in you all along, that is the place from where the process needs to emerge, as opposed to trying to imitate someone else on the surface of the thing, and trying to dig deeper from there. That sort just seems...forced and contrived, fake and phony, and quite frankly, it makes me feel nauseated. And we ALL know what happens when a person (in this case, me) feels nauseated. Let's just say I am temporarily unable to speak in my own voice because I am preoccupied. Let's just leave it at that.
"But Michelle,"
Oh, would you look at who's Imaginary Reader decided to show up just now?! Mine, of course! Hello, Gentle Imaginary Reader! What would you like to know today?
"Michelle, I am wondering who inspires you."
Well, Gentle Reader, I thought you would never ask. Let me think. I am inspired by great writers who's work I cannot touch, though I have tried, OH! HOW I have TRIED!!
These are a few : Ogden Nash, Dr. Seuss, Anne Lamott, Robert Frost. And then I am inspired by my own rambly thoughts, run on sentences, and a slew of made up words and eccentricities all my own.
"Michelle, thank you. I will go and look all of those writers up online, if I cannot get to my nearest bookstore."
Great idea, Gentle Reader, great idea.


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