Start with a simple declarative paragraph;
minimum two lines. Best if it’s
first or third person and highly specific.
Journalistic styling is acceptable.
“Mary” is a good female name.
There are no good male names.
Proceed quickly to a scene from nature,
go light on adjectives and alliterations,
no similes. No birds either.
There are now two choices: human society is
losing touch with wild nature; or, we live in
an unavoidably connected wild natural world.
Mary had a little lamb.
Start over, this time naming the main
Bring in a contrasting natural setting:
mountains, rivers, trees, Winter.
Avoid the color “purple,” the nouns “wine”
and “rainbow,” and the adjective “fetid.”
Next, wow them with a shocking segue
to an existential emergency – birth, aging,
death, sex, whatever. Choose Sheila’s
three-year battle with stomach cancer.
The words “fog” and “mist” come to mind.
Give a call back to the opening. However,
“Hey Sheila!” is a sure loser, believe me.
Consider ways of using Sheila’s cancer and
death as a metaphor. Avoid clichés. Pause to
marvel that death could be a cliché.
Conclude with a magnificently profound
platitude. Use Google to make sure
it’s original. Read some Basho and try again.
Await the inevitable raves and
accolades: oh, thank you! Thank you!
Recall the phrase bloody ignorant apes,
that Winter on the mountain tastes like
fetid wine, rivers tumbling over Sheila’s
forgotten shadow, a foggy rainbow, a tree
lost in the purple mist, a falling bird.
Tell them they are so very wrong.
© 2017, Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.
Image Credits: Brad Hagan