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Haiku Friday: Undress

WritersToday my haiku is from May 29th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Undress”:

 

undress a body
follow the bones with your brush
showcase the beauty

 

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

 

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

A Story Of Words

Eating Mythos Soup - trimmedI’m on vacation this week so no new blog post. Instead here is an excerpt from my book Eating Mythos Soup, Poemstories for Laura, published 15 years ago. But still true.

I am obsessed by the sounds of words.

I like Old English comical words like mugwort, or marshmallow. I like hushed words spoken in whispers, like neath and ghoul. I like common every day words like horn and jump and dog.

I feel words nestled in my mouth, tucked into my cheeks. I smell them and taste them and lick every last drop from the corners of my lips. Then I let them roll and drip like sweet spiced oil off my tongue.

Words like nut have a short sharp crunchy feel as I say them; and when I say honey I can feel the golden brown goo thick at the back of my throat. Or consider the word crazy: the bee-tickled Z sound juxtaposed with the terrified EE sound of the Y, the harsh C next to the soft liquid R; these are contradictions and make you doubt the location of your mind.

I am enveloped in the sweet glut of words. I jump into them as if they are piles of autumn leaves. I roll around and listen to them crinkle and crisp under my broad soft hips. Or I dive into them as if they were the gooiest darkest mud in the Congo Basin; I let them stop up my ears and my nose and I snort and sneeze and squelch and rub them in my armpits. I hang them on my body like jewels, and I spray them onto my skin like perfume. I ornament and decorate and design myself with words.

And I feed myself with words. I suck them in while hot and feel them burn all the way down, and I even crave cold leftover words because they too can hit that blank lonely spot and make the soothing Aahh begin.

Haiku Friday: Silk

WritersToday my haiku is from May 22nd of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Silk”:

over the shoulders
a long curved line to the feet
silk puddles on floor

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Why I Am Here

Delicious birthday cake on table on bright backgroundAlex Terrgi here. Tomorrow is my human’s birthday, and she says she does not want to ghostwrite for me today, because she is taking three days off to celebrate. She says she is not going to write another word until this coming Friday, and that includes ghostwriting for me.

Hah. I’ll believe that when I see it. I’m not sure she can live without writing something. It’s what she does. In fact, here’s the haiku she wrote just yesterday.

Please, on my headstone
Etch one of my best haiku
It’s why I was here

 I too know why I am here. It’s to love her.

Haiku Friday: Flap

WritersToday my haiku is from May 15th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Flap”:

flap your black swan wings
hoot like a young chimpanzee
dance a lively dance

 

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

 

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Listen to Yourself

Part of head woman with hand to ear listeningI wrote this blog post back in 2011 for The Blood Red Pencil, and am reposting it here because I think it contains a good tip, for ghostwriters and all writers.

Naturally, ghostwriters need to be good writers, but there is another skill that is equally important. We need to be good interviewers. Interviews are not only for gathering information; they also allow me to capture the unique voice of my client. I’ve written before about this facet of my job as a ghostwriter, but I think some tips that help ghostwriters can equally well help all writers, ghostly or not. Here is one such tip.

Interview yourself. Talk your thoughts instead of writing them. Tell a story, or muse and ponder, out loud – and record yourself doing so. Then play it back.

What metaphors and idioms do you use? Do you have an accent, or use words and phrases that betray your origins? What are you not saying, and why aren’t you saying it? Pay attention to the cadence of your speech, the rhythm of your words. Do you write true to your own voice?

Transcribe the recording verbatim, and then edit the transcription, removing the ums and ers and sidetracks, but preserving the rhythm and your voice. Who knows, maybe you will learn something new about yourself.

By the way, this also works for building fictional characters. Talk aloud as if you are your character. What are they trying to tell you? Are you listening?

Haiku Friday: Dance

WritersToday my haiku is from May 8th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Dance”:

dance around the fire
all night long the shadows stay
outside the circle

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Ghostwriting for a Dog:  Pet Girl Gone

Dog blogAlex Terrgi here. If you read my blog posts (and if you don’t, why don’t you? I’m always interesting!) you might remember that I’ve had my own pet girl living in my house. (Her parents have been living here too, but they are not my pets.) My pet girl is my human’s granddaughter and is the best little girl in the whole world, and even if you have a wonderful granddaughter too, I know my pet girl is better than yours. She plays with me, and pets me, and gives me treats, and lets me sleep on her, and lets me watch TV with her, and throws the ball for me, and laughs at my jokes, and tells me her secrets, and she even lets me play with her squeaky stuffed animals sometimes.

Then … tragedy struck. My pet girl’s parents bought a new house and moved into it – taking my pet girl with them! Now if I want to see my pet girl I have to make my human take me to visit at her house, or I have to wait until my pet girl comes to visit me (and her grandmother) at our house. This is seriously wrong. The point of having a pet girl is that you live in the same house and do a lot of stuff together.

I am sad now. Sometimes I moan in my sleep because I am dreaming about how my pet girl is gone. When I’m awake I sit in front of the TV and wish she was here with me, laughing at Dog with a Blog. (I like this show for obvious reasons.) Or I look out the window and hope to see her jumping out of her car as it pulls into our driveway. I wait and wait and wait very patiently but it doesn’t happen often enough. (This should happen at least once a day, and preferably more.)

I still love my human and will never leave her, but I wish she had more power over my pet girl so she could make her come back here. I think grandparents should have more say.

The Cat is still here, but The Cat just doesn’t cut it.

Haiku Friday: Rags

WritersToday my haiku is from May 1st of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Rags”:

dress up in wild rags
rags of velvet, rags of silk
rags to make love in

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Writing Tip: Black Sheep and Other Forbidden Topics

lammThere are always topics we can’t talk about. Sometimes these forbidden topics are societal – in some societies talk about sex is taboo, or death, or money (when’s the last time you asked an acquaintance, “So how much money do you make a year?”) And there are familial taboos, like Dad’s drinking or Mom’s pills, or an older brother in prison, or any family member you have been taught to be ashamed of. Even ancestors.

But what you can’t talk about you can’t write about either. Your beliefs about what is forbidden can stifle your creativity. A good exercise to free up your mind is write about the black sheep in your family anyway. (You don’t have to publish it.) You can start with an ancestor, since it may conjure up less pain. Here’s an exercise I often give when teaching memoir writing:

Write the story of an ancestor who is spoken of in whispers, if at all. Perhaps he or she went to prison, or drank heavily, or stole, or was a womanizer, or betrayed his/her country, or was a coward, or a cheat, or a slaveholder, etc. etc. etc. What do you know about this person? How did this story get handed down in your family? Is this person now admired or despised?

I wrote a few pieces about some of these sheep in my own family, although I couldn’t find any truly bad ones, only gray ones. (Most people are gray.) But there was one ancestor who no one seemed willing to talk about. The only thing I knew about him was that his name was Frank and he was my mother’s grandfather, her father’s father. But one day about fifteen years ago I did learn some things about Frank, and found that we did indeed have one of those black sheep in my family. It’s taken this long for me to take my own advice and write about what I learned, but here goes. Finally.

My mother used to have lunch with her cousins every year. Often her mother, my grandmother, also attended these luncheons. Fifteen years ago I went with my mother and grandmother to a gathering of these cousins, who were by then women in their seventies and early eighties. (All the male cousins were dead by then.) My grandmother was the only representative of her generation, in her nineties at the time.

About midway through lunch, the name Frank was mentioned, and suddenly, as if someone had thrown a switch, stories started tumbling out. (There had been quite a lot of wine consumed by this time.) I listened open-mouthed at the tales these elderly women told, from the fairly innocuous like how Frank told filthy jokes and laughed at their embarrassment, to the upsetting like how he pinched their budding breasts or bottoms, to the appalling like Frank telling my great-aunt Tessie, then 11, to “touch me here” as he pulled his “privates” (her word) out of his stained pants. It was even worse listening to the women tell how their fathers and mothers did nothing to stop him. “Oh that Frank,” they’d say indulgently, while they chuckled at Frank’s cute liking for little girls.

My own mother told of how Frank scared her badly when she was nine. He had come up behind her, pulled up her dress, and tried to pull down her underwear. She tore herself away from his searching hands and ran crying to her mother, Frank’s daughter-in-law, who said, “Oh that silly Frank, just ignore him.”

My grandmother, whose advice this had been, at this point got up and left the table. She spent the rest of the luncheon visit in the bathroom. When we drove home, she sat stony-faced in the back seat of the car and refused to look at my mother.

Later I asked my mother to tell me more about Frank, but she refused. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “He’s dead now.”

I beg to differ. It does matter. What Frank did to my mother, and her girl cousins, shaped their lives. My mother shaped mine. There is quote by Emile Zola, which sums up why it matters:

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”