TQ: How do you prepare for a review? How has this process changed since you started in SPEW?
When I started in SPEW my reviews tended to be a lot shorter. I essentially read the story, and tried to get my thoughts and critiques down in a somewhat organized manner. Before I took my hiatus over the summer, I would generally read, print out, highlight and get my main ideas down on paper, then write the review. I'm currently trying to get my reviewing back to where it was (because I'm very, very rusty). Now I try to follow the same process, but I'm having a lot more difficulty organizing my reviews and getting my thoughts out clearly. This issue is greatly exacerbated by my procrastination of reviewing until the deadline.
TQ: How much crit/squee do you generally put in a review?
TQ: How much time do you spend filtering out squee comments or softening critical ones?
It depends how much I've procrastinated the review. Critique is a lot more difficult to write because I have to make sure I'm clear and that I'm not phrasing it in a way that is rude or condescending. Also, I have to make sure that I'm giving reasons and explaining precisely what I didn't like and why I didn't like it. I personally find a well worded criticism is more helpful to me than squee-ing. I really try not to squee unless I actually think the thing is worth squee-ing about. In other words, I try to say what I mean and mean what I say in a review. However, if I'm running late, a lot more squee than I really want in the review slips in, which is not something that makes me happy. I feel like if I squee at everything, the things that I really think are squee-worthy aren't distinguished. However, it's much, much more difficult and takes a lot more time to critique than to squee.
TQ: Do you review every story in the same fashion, or do you have different techniques for different genres?
With a poem, I will always print it out and highlight and make comments. I will generally note the number of syllables and highlight repetition and make more generall comments on the piece. I then will review. With a one-shot what I do varies more. If I have definite things I like or don't like about it that come to mind immediately, I'll brainstorm them down on paper. If not, I may print out the story and use that to help me think. I'll pick out and highlight sections that stand out to me, and make comments right next to them.
TQ: How much do you edit your reviews before submitting?
Not as much as I should. I have very little patience for editing, and if I've left my reviews really late I've often written them out then just submitted them. I always write my reviews in word and spell check them. If I'm feeling really good about the review, I'll look it over quickly and submit. If I have a lot of critique or am not thrilled about the content I will carefully go over the review and try to make sure I'm clear and have put thought and reasoning into everything I've said. I also try to make sure I don't sound condescending.
New TQ: Do you have a favorite genre to review? Why is it your favorite?
Poetry is my favorite genre to review, and I also find it the easiest genre to review. I like to review more technical aspects of a story and connect them to theme, plot and, characterization. Poetry is a genre where technical things like line length, rhyme, stanza breaks, etc. are critical. The length of a poem is generally much shorter than that of a poem, so I find the review much easier to organize than with a longer story (even a one-shot). In a longer piece, I have to pick and choose what I want to comment on more than in a poem which is nice.
So I guess it's time to jump in :)
You’re the leader of Poetry, Anyone? on the boards here. How has your experience and knowledge on this forum helped you in your poetry on the archives?
I wouldn't say that being leader of the forum has helped me with my poetry but rather it's reading the poetry from the other members which continues to inspire me and keep me on my toes! I haven't published many new poems on the archives in the past year (Neither Can Live was accidentally deleted and republished so it doesn't really count as new) but I do write OF poetry and reading/judging the amazing entries to the PA challenges each month is always great. I think it's important to read and analyse other author's work in order to improve my own writing and being leader of Poetry, Anyone? puts me in a good position to do so. As a member of Poetry, Anyone? before I became Laureate taught me a heck of a lot, though. Getting the crit each month was so helpful and all of my poems have benefited from having someone else look at them with an objective eye. Sometimes you can go round and round in circles when writing poetry until you can't see straight and that's why getting support from other writers is so important. Writing may seem like an individual pursuit but it shouldn't be.
How much do you "research" your poems before you write them? Do you start out meaning to write in a specific format, or let the verses come?
That's a good question and there isn't really one single answer, to be honest. Some poems start out as an exercise, like The Lost Weeks, where I set out to specifically write a sestina for my creative writing portfolio for university. But many just start out as me jotting down some phrases which float into my head. Sometimes they morph into something with a formal structure and others just take on their own free-verse shape.
Which leads into the next TQ quite nicely.
Many of your poems are in specific forms or are influenced by them. Are you more comfortable with structure than free verse? What sorts of benefits or drawbacks for structure v. free verse help you make the decision of which form you want to use for individual poems?
I think I am comfortable with both. I love writing poems with a formal structure and I also love writing free-verse. It might seem counter-intuitive but sometimes structured poems can be more freeing than writing free-verse because it makes you really think and work hard to make the words fit in the most seamless way. They make you look at language in ways you never would have before. Writing The Lost Weeks was the hardest piece of writing I've ever done but it was also the most satisfying. There are drawbacks with structure, of course. It is restrictive and when it doesn't work it's always disheartening after you've put in the effort and end up having to abandon it. Free-verse can be just as hard to write, though. Poetry may not have structure but it still needs rhythm and flow. As I said before, when I set out to use a specific structure it is usually part of an exercise otherwise the decision to use a specific structure or not isn't something I dwell on. When writing a poem I am first struck by a particular word or phrase and then I work out some bones around that. If it suits a particular structure then I will go with that, if not I just write and see where it takes me. That's not a very insightful answer, sorry!
You have a gift for lyrical words and phrases. Did you start out writing/poeting with the shiny words of shininess, or did you start with structure and grow into that golden vocabulary of yours?
Gosh now I must think back to my pre-teen cringe-worthy poetry! My early poetry was very angsty and dark and very unstructured. It was all free-verse and not very good free-verse at that. It was almost stream of conscious freewriting and, basically, an eleven-year old girl trying to sound like Shakespeare. And that's the thing with language, you can try to sound mature or deep or complex but if you're not letting it come naturally then it's obvious that you're trying too hard. So I began with neither structure nor a particularly "golden" vocabulary! I did start with a love for poetry, though, and through reading, studying, and breathing poetry throughout my adolescence I built a foundation upon which I've never stopped building. Like I said before, writing is not something you can do on your own. You learn from others and you learn from your own mistakes. A writer who wants to improve never thinks that what they're doing is the best because they're constantly reading other work, learning new techniques, and experimenting.
Thanks for your questions, Lily and Jess! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and discussion :)
My SPEW lovelies, I'm going to leave this thread up for another five days or so, so even if you didn't participate in the activity, feel free to drop by and contribute or ask some questions of the author. :)
Oooooh, question time :)
What draws you to Harmony?
Similarly, what draws you to poetry?
Have you ever thought about writing something different from your usual lyrical style? Like maybe dialogue only or something?
What form of poetry do you like writing the most?
How much does music inspire your writing (both poetry and stories)?
Finally, do you have anything new in the works? If so, can you share?