Literary Resolutions - Rereading Your Old Work

Literary Resolutions 2011!

I found out about these through Theresa Milstein last month. May's resolution is to spend the month rereading your old work.

Now, I'm not sure why it takes a month. I spent a whole night looking through documents I've saved for the past fifteen years (anything older isn't on the computer) and that was enough for me!

Boy, I sure drivelled on sometimes ("Melancholy rocks in a slow chair").

So many of my short story, poetry and play titles came from other people's song titles. I've got a funny spoof I did of hard-boiled fiction, a short short about Liam Gallagher, and one about my favourite Britpop bands at the time, as well as a short story version of the Pulp's Don't You Want Me Anymore (guy leaves girl; guy returns to girl to find she's taken up with another guy). Also a Bukowski-esque piece, a Stephen Fry ripoff (that's what I called it), and a pile of book, album and concert reviews. My German used to be one heck of a lot better, more's the pity. I read a few of my plays and short stories, and wow, I've lost so much vocabulary, I can barely understand my own writing.

Then there's the one and only time I ever tried to plot a story. All about Katherine Richler, her friend Arlene Rochester, her love interest Christopher Randall, and his friend Allen Fougler (what was I thinking with those names?). After I listed Katherine's name, age, schooling, career, etc., I added:

"Bollocks. This isn't working, I have typed her name and a thousand different sentences, finally decided what I want, her walking down the street to her rented car, to go down to Old Montreal to meet Christopher and his partner, and I can not begin."

Then, instead of starting the story, I decided to, ahem, explore his eye colour: "His lips are full, and when his smile is genuine it includes his entire face, his eyes growing greener. When he's serious or troubled, all the green is lost, becoming only faint specks near the pupil and a chocolate brown stares at you, deep in whatever emotion he is in, anger or sadness. His eyebrows are on a ridge, shadowing his eyes without covering them, and they are not joined in the middle."

And that is why I'm not a plotter.

There are some good words in there among all the chaff, though. At some point I wrote: "The roses which prick you / do so not because they have thorns / but because you hold them too closely."

I also had a three line poem on Romeo and Juliet. Then, for some reason, I wrote about the circus:

under the big top
when you're waking all those faces
and the colours are bright on your skin
they're shining and shining and shining
full house tonight
hey man, the laughter's loud
it's echoing from all sides
and running all down your spine
to the ballooning pants and the
big shoes
they're cackling when you snap your
suspenders
they're howling when you've got custard
in your eyes
and the tears are from the smoke, right?
Have you looked at your old writing lately?

Meanwhile, on A Round of Words in 80 Days, I'm gearing up for Barbara Rogan's Revising Fiction course (starts 14 June!) by finalising my synopsis - draft after draft after draft. I think I've memorised it by now...

And don't forget! Ann Best's memoir, In The Mirror, came out yesterday!
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