On the Process of Writing: It’s a Recipe, But It’s Yours

by Beacon Poetry Editor Billy Hands

Billy Hands

So you want a peek, want to take a little look at the place where candycanes are straight before they’re twisted. 

As I mulled over the process of poetry, I realized that it is similar to a recipe or a formula, but it’s mine mine all mine! There’s no right way or wrong way but my way and it isn’t fair to say your way isn’t correct. 

Great, that sounds like a loop inside a loop.  It might be a hamster in a wheel stuck on the habitrail of life.  My process is “a” process not “the” process and one shouldn’t ask a poet to write all this!

Dr. Peas taught me chemistry in high school and I don’t know what I liked better, the subject or his grading process. 

Peas gave partial credit if you showed your work even if the final answer wasn’t the right answer. Get the judges! Phone a friend!  

I could be on the trail to Oz, clicking along these yellow bricks and poof! Went this way at the scarecrow when I should have gone that way but hey, made it to the scarecrow so here you go, partial credit. Poetry is the same way but no grades here. Left or right at the stuffed burlap sack is your choice. You may want to plow straight ahead and tear up the whole damn corn field, doesn’t matter.

Cards on the table:  I listen to music when writing poetry, sets the tone. It also makes it easier to “borrow” from better lyricists. What was that quote? “The greatest form of flattery is imitation” or something like that. Plus I find distractions helpful as long as they can be controlled. That makes absolutely no sense but it works. 

Stringing words together that haven’t been put together before but sound familiar. That’s a good one. Emily Dickinson had a knack for writing lines that sounded like they rhymed. 

If two words stood alone side by side like little soldiers of letters they wouldn’t work, but if they had their entire army of verbs and metaphors and those generals of proper nouns then she was cooking!   

Ah hah, cooking. It’s a recipe but it’s yours.  ‘ll bet it tastes different each time.

East End Beacon

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