The first line of a story, thought or poem is usually what comes to me first. The source can be a phrase I happen to hear on the radio, or in a song. 'Rolling Them' is actually from a piece of a song I heard by Miranda Lambert. (I love country music, lots of stories there) .
by Lonnie Hicks
The idea of the cowboy rolling his own also reminded me of my dad who at one point also rolled his own cigarettes.
So the line had poetic appeal to me as well as emotional appeal. This was fine with me; hard to write about something which brings up no emotion for you or has no appeal no matter how clever the phrase or idea might be.
Therefore, rule number one: If the line doesn't make you feel anything or get you excited likely it will have the same effect on others.
Now a cowboy rolling his own by himself has little appeal, so I opened with a woman watching him roll his own. That fascination by a woman watching a man roll a cigarette I remember as my mother watching my dad roll his own.
The two made many double entendres about that process and those, I put into the writing. It was their form of love play and both enjoyed it immensely.
That was the origin of 'Rolling Them'
'My Dream Feels' is a poetic piece which has a more difficult birth.
The first line is:
'If it weren't for that perfect fit
breasts to my chest; '
I am a sucker for two poetic themes Yeats-like Yearning, what I call plain language writing and intimacy in every line.
That first line also was interesting to me because it breaks the rule about using contractions. My English teacher told me not to use them. So I use them. So there.
But these are negative contractions, 'weren't' for example forces the mind first in a negative mold but then it allows me to perform one of my favor misdirection techniques, fool the reader as to what the sentence is about and that not be revealed until the very last word of the sentence or phrase.
I try not to be predictable in the sentence or phrase, that us boring; I try to offer the reader a surprize in every sentence or phrase, and I try to pack many different sensory aspects in every sentence possible.
If you do not you'll find yourself face down on the bed-side reading table, or an authorsden reader will click you into obscurity.
Dangerous thing this writing.
So now we have a great first sentence, and a great first sentence and title is a must. If you don't get the reader to stop of the list of possible reads because of the first sentence or title, you won't get read. Simple as that.
Besides I like the excitement that these two literary devices can bring to a piece. Dull titles usually signal a dull piece.
Also I try to misdirect the reader with some of my titles; don't want nobody guessing what the piece is about and perhaps skipping it. No we all what to be read don't we.
So think about what the title should, intrigue that reader.
Usually I create the title of a piece last since when I start a piece I don't have a clue as to what the piece will be about-except for narrative pieces of course.
The rolling out of a story or poem is half-the fun since I usually will allow my self to be carried away by what my pen what to write. It is a form of allowing flow to happen, to allow one'self to be swept way.
It if feels hard and like work then writing becomes hard and life work.
All good pieces I say to myself ought to make me giggle with excitement at the end of last line, or least laugh or tingle with excitement because something new has been created in the world.
I like that feeling and have become addicted to it.
I probably wouldn't get addicted if it felt like drudgery.
So on to line two.
The first gave me a 'scaffolding' a framework to generate the second line.
If our bodies fit so perfectly, naturally you'd wonder about what else, say the lips.
I love kissing so I was drawn there mouth slightly parted.
It was delicious in the writing.
But simply following the framework is not enough. Going on through a list would not have very interesting. Readers so good at reading and anticipating what the writer is doing you have to keep them on their toes and not let them think that they understand a piece from the first two lines.
No siree bub.
At the fifth line we learn that this is not a causal kiss and hug, it is about love.
Almost a reluctant love possibly, or hidden love since we have used negative contractions.
The story aspect here is beginning to emerge, and we like that and want to know more.
The writer, now in full-bewitched mode, (and who among us doesn't want the power to bewitch someone else completely, and who among us has at some point felt bewitched by a lover, wife or husband) ?
So now we have more complex structure in play in this piece and a story as well. I am trying to keep the reader reading so you have to offer her/him something to make that happen.
Every word we see here is important. We are all used to speed reading and don't usually have a lot of time, therefore, we often have the attention span of gnat. Every word matters and must add an riching aspect to the sentence in which it appears. This is a rule.
Now we understand a 'flower-petal' voice. This is pure imagery. What does it mean? Who cares. It is the image that matters, an imagery that allows the reader to participate in the rendering of the poem. So important to try to not make the reader totally passive.
The reader has faculties emotions and senses, and if you make a poem or story all about you, your ideas and your emotions, you have robbed the reader of the use of their own imagination. Many will tolerate that for a while but some will punish you for that and vote you to the beside reading table face down.
So remember writing is a relationship between author and reader, not just about the author. That way of writing quickly becomes boring.
After all, none of us are so interesting such that we can write about ourselves, our feelings, our point of view, our family, for the rest of our lives.
No one is that interesting and this is probably the greatest source of writers block among writer who run out of things to say about themselves.
Acquire the habit of writing about other people, their feelings, their thoughts and weave them together in a piece. Empathy is the writers greatest tool.
Anyway, back to our task.
Now we have 'summer breeze yearning eyes' and a 'summer heart' coming together. This is image relating to image both being completed by the reader, not the writer.
Learning to leave space for the readers imagination to come into play was difficult for me because I had always felt that in writing I had to 'tell' the reader something, or 'show' the reader or 'reveal' great truths.
Sometime but most of the time I had to learn I had to create a space which has the craft built in such that the reader can participate and select those aspects in a story or poem and make of it something themselves which can or might be affecting or even transforming.
Great writing transforms the reader, transports the readerl, if only for an instant.
This is why, as some of you have asked, I often start a story or poem and let it sit there for the reader to complete themselves, get ideas from and write their own stories. Often I just like the idea of placing the beginning of a story out there which others can them apply their own imaginations to.
I don't have to close that circle. I am happy to have readers do that themselves.
Tomorrow: Continuing to look at 'My Dream Feels'