The Third Sentence

Many creative writing classes and manuals will stress the importance of the first sentence, that it must grab the reader’s attention. Even Hemingway espoused this fallacy. But the first sentence is never enough.

Yes, it must grab the reader’s attention, If it doesn’t the reader will go elsewhere. There are plenty of options — but if the second sentence is flaccid, all will be lost. The second sentence fulfills the promise of the first.

But it is the third sentence that seals the deal. The third sentence assures the reader that the writer is authentic, that they are worth listening to, that they have something to say and have the command of language to say it with flair and authority. They can be trusted.

After that the writer will be ‘in full swing’. The reader will be committed;  will go along for the ride.  

Balzakian

Not cinched

cloistered

coffined

poems

but big

blubbery

Balzakian

bursting with life

Rubenesque

with rotundity

doorstoppers

of poems

life spilling out

of them

like clothes from a suitcase

clowns out

of a jalopy

All Those Posts … And No Novel

Just think.

500 posts in three years.

I could have written a novel

or short story collection

or that non-fiction book I was always going to write

about the life and death

of board games

or as my grandkids call them

‘bored games’.

Did I choose the form or did the form choose me?

I could be hard on myself

for lacking focus, not chaining myself to my chair.

I would like to be a great writer like David Foster Wallace

but I don’t have the constitution for it.

Besides I don’t look good in a bandana.

A Children’s Picture Story Book

that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

I’m a lover of the short form.

Posts.
They’re my thing.

Unwrapping them each morning. People unwrapping mine.

There is joy there.

Meaning.

And who is to say one form is superior to another?

*what do you think?

Goulash

I am reading a short story but it is not making any sense.

Call me ‘old-fashioned’ but I think a story should make sense.

Maybe it’s because it’s told in a goulash of styles.

But the writer is an accomplished writer.

Does that mean I am not an accomplished reader?

Can a writer be over-confident, cocky? If so, can a reader?

Maybe it’s my mindset.

Maybe I should loosen up like good old George, slouch around in the ungrammatic, delve in the demotic, savour the stew

  • have you read any books or seen any films that made little sense? did you continue with them anyway?
  • what makes an accomplished reader?

Seek and Ye Shall Find?

.

I’d been looking for a career back in the late sixties but it found me.

I went looking for God for a few years in the early seventies but found what I really wanted was to have kids so God went out the window.

I had another shot at finding God or Transcendence a little later on but ended up in a cult so I had to get out but I found Rhonda who was very spiritual and inspirational. I used to say to her, ‘Help Me Rhonda’ and she would smile and help me anyway.

For a few years from 2010 everyone went looking for Bin Laden. I would track all over the streets of Adelaide because Adelaide would be a perfect place to hide. I mean who would think of looking for him there?

Then I went looking for Milton but I found him.

I know a journalist who was sent to write an article for a top American magazine on J D Salinger who proved elusive as God but he wrote the article anyway on NOT finding J D Salinger and still got it published.

Lately I’ve been searching for Equanimity but that’s harder to find, except in snatches, as Bin Laden or J D Salinger.

Barry

This is Barry.

Say hello to Barry.

He runs the Central Market Books in Adelaide.

I had a chat to him last Friday night.

Apart from who he reads — Jo Nesbo, Robert Ludlum and Lee Childs —and what he’s into: Magic, Militaria, Espionage and Angels —the most remarkable thing about Barry is that he’s a man happy in his own skin.

And isn’t that the goal, the purpose, the station we want to arrive at?

And o, don’t mention Stephen King. His inner echidna comes out then.

I Have a Problem with Mary Oliver

I have a problem with Mary Oliver.

Much as I like her

and I do have a book of hers

all of her poems after a while

seem the same.

It may seem harsh but it’s a judgment

people could make of my poems

or, for that matter, any one’s poems.

Each poet has a voice, just as each singer has,

each artist, and that voice inhabits each of their poems.

You can recognize a Billy Collins poem,

a Charles Simic poem, a Lewis Carrol poem,

or, for that matter, a Shakespeare or Ben Jonson poem.

Each poem within a poet’s work is, of course, different,

but the song, to use  Led Zeppelin phrase, remains the same.

There is no way out of it. No way around it.

Maybe familiarity does breed contempt.

But many of us find comfort in familiarity too,

Swings and Roundabouts.

But is it poetry, John?

But is it poetry, John?

You mean, is it like Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’

you know the one, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’

or ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’?

Probably not.

Well, How about Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost?

Come on, we’re talking 2020 here.

Then what?

A little bit of Billy Collins, I say, and Billy Connelly,

a sort of mad mix, the demotic and demonic.

We let our dirty laundry hang out. moon the pious,

but always in an Aussie accent. Your country first.

Does it have to rhyme? you ask. Probably not.

It’s not like Aussie Rules. There are no rules.

Though it’s a game anyone can play.

Just let it rattle off the tongue, roll off the mind,

Ignore the referees.

Have fun.

the Well-Read Salmon

I was idling by the brook fishing for tranquility

when the phrase leapt into my head.

What was I to do with it?

Toss it back?

Nah.

It had me hooked. It wriggled and flashed.

What texts would the well-read salmon have tackled?

Isaac Walton’s ‘The Compleat Angler’, of course.

that old chestnut, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’

and ‘Cloudstreet’ where poor old Fish Lamb almost drowned

& was revived but ‘not all of Fish had come back’,

‘Moby Dick, perhaps though as everyone knows a whale is a mammal

not a fish

though the well-read salmon would have known that.

He would have been well-versed in sea poems too,

knowing by heart ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ being one up

on me.

& a hearty singer of sea shanties going up and down

the scales

When I Come Back

When I come back

I want to come back as a book.

No matter how rambunctious, vitriolic,

passionate the life within,

I can’t get over how composed

each one looks.

  • if you could come back as a book, which character would you choose to be?