Katy and I collaborated on a poem in writing class on Thursday night.
Some say love is like old cheese
Texture plus a bitter taste
Blue veins and holes – such a tease
Quite poor, although produced in less than five minutes, and constrained by specific rules.
- First sentence provided
- Following two lines must have same number of syllables
- Final words of lines 1 and 3 to rhyme
What was the point of the exercise? I guess (because we weren’t told) we were experimenting in the use of picking our words carefully. Five minutes to select fourteen syllables. Imagine deploying the same amount of care to my novel:
- seventy-five thousand words
- approximately one hundred and fifty thousand syllables (what is the average number of syllables in a word?)
- eight hundred and ninety-two hours
- two and three-quarter years at one hour a day (I’ve got a family and a full-time job).
Add to that time spent in class learning better techniques, writing this blog and a few short stories, and the occasional bout of laziness.
That first novel might be some time off yet. Or, practice so that I can produce fourteen syllables in less than five minutes.
What’s that you say? Surely you can write faster than that? Yes, on average, I think I write about fourteen words per minute. But then, at the end of the first draft, how many further drafts? This is the point of the poem we constructed – it takes time to get the right words in the right place for maximum effect.
One last thought. It was fun. Moving words around, seeking the right mix. Looking for poetic elements that worked. Understanding the nature of cheese and getting the right context. If you get it right – it’s also fun to share with the class. I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get it right, but then, it wasn’t all my fault. I had help.
Any comments from the very few people that read this out there? How many words do you write per minute? How many drafts?