Sunday, July 25, 2010

Adventures in A

Image from Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

Written for Sunday Scribblings prompt #225: "letter."

This two-part entry is brought to you by the letter A.

1. A is for the Key Of

Music Trio
Brooklyn, NY, 1959. I am about a year old.

Whenever I can, I get to the monthly open mics at Woodview Coffee House a few miles down the road. Woodview is closed for the summer, but the coffee house is sponsoring a contest "to document in song the threat this oil disaster poses to our Gulf Coast way of life; to celebrate the beauty that is threatened by this manmade disaster; and to encourage alternate means of producing energy which are safer, cleaner and renewable." (Click here for details and entry form.)

I've composed pieces in the past, but this is the first time I've entered a song-writing contest. Entrants may submit up to three songs; the deadline is October 1 and results won't be in until mid-February 2011.

A concept came to me shortly after I saw the announcement, and I spent the next week working out the lyrics and tune in my head, writing the melody and piano accompaniment, practicing the piece, and finally recording it to submit.

I get a disconnect when I try to translate the sounds in my head into symbols on the page -- for as long as I can remember I could play music by ear pretty easily, but my sight-reading has always been lousy. I had to re-educate myself about things I'd long forgotten, like dotted rests. And after jotting down a "quick" first draft in the key of C, I realized that to be kind to my voice I had to transpose what I had written, down to the key of A.

The process also showed me how differently I treat song writing from fiction writing, or even from poetry, even though the lyrics are essentially a poem. I can point almost immediately to musical influences for the song. As I wrote the lyrics, I could hear in my head echoes of several tunes with mood and tempo similar to what I wanted to do. In contrast, I would be hard-pressed to say that a story of mine combines the qualities of stories X, Y, and Z from other people -- although I can often point to a piece of music (rather than prose) that drives my fiction. Music doesn't play much of a role when I write poetry, although I'm driven by the rhythm of the words.

2. A is for August

Starting next Sunday (August 1), I'll participate in Folded Word's writing month event, 24/7. Participants spend the first 24 days of the month writing short works, then spend the final week in revisions. Folded Word's July 20 blog entry gives details on how to join the event.

The Basecamp site defines short works as follows: flash fiction (101-500 words), micro fiction (40-100 words), Twitter-sized prose or poetry (140 characters or fewer), prose poems (under 100 words), and short poetry of any form (8 lines or fewer). (Those definitions differ slightly from those on the blog entry.)

I plan to give my entries the central theme of "Divinations" (not to be confused with my series, Deviations). At my desk I've got a pair of dice -- one blue die, one purple -- that were freebies from Comic Emporium at The Wrath of Con back in 2008. I've assigned them the following values:

Blue Die
1 (CE logo). Twitter poetry (140 characters or fewer)
2. Twitter fiction (140 characters or fewer)
3. short poetry (8 lines or fewer)
4. prose poems (under 100 words)
5. micro fiction (40-100 words)
6. flash fiction (101-500 words)

Purple Die
1 (CE logo). Birth
2. Water
3. Air
4. Earth
5. Fire
6. Death

For example, a toss gives me a 3 on the blue die and a 4 on the purple die. Using the correspondences above, that gives me a prompt to write a short poem of 8 lines or fewer about a process of divination that uses earth or something earth-related:

Cocooned Garden

Inchworms sift through dropped dirt.
I brush my pants, leave pale fruits behind.
At night I dream
of a harvest of Geometrid moths
making the moonlight flutter
through skeletonized leaves.

Small Purplish Gray Moth
Iridopsis humaria, Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths). Common name: Small Purplish Gray. Photographed in October 2007.

My Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, defines "divination" as 1. the attempt to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means; 2. augury; prophecy; 3. perception by intuition; instinctive foresight. One meaning of "occult" is "hidden." That leaves me with a broad range of interpretation.

A central theme is not a requirement in 24/7. But I like having an over-arching concept that would tie all those short works together.
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Blogger Dee Martin said...

what an interesting idea - using the dice for prompts. There was so much here to read. I love the idea of writing involving the oil spill - I hope it truly raises awareness.

10:56 PM  
Blogger e_journeys said...

Thanks, Dee!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Divaa Divine said...

i m awed by ur use of this prompt!

fantastic :D

Letting You Know Through Letters

1:30 PM  
Blogger e_journeys said...

Thanks, Divaa Divine!

10:01 PM  

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