Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Prose: b : a literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech.

One of the things I find interesting about the world of blogs is the resurgence of prose. I’m sure some literature professors would frown at the idea of good prose arising out of the morass of self indulgence that accounts for so much blogging (and I don’t exclude myself from that). But, why not? When was literature ever NOT heavily driven by self indulgence?

“I’m sorry daaaaahling, but I have something to say to the woooorrrld. You shall simply haaaaave to wait until I finish my new novel, and then, perhaps, we can discuss the taaaaawdry and insignificant business of children and a home.”

I have a degree in literature, but this has not left me with a snobby attitude about it. I don’t know if that means I was educated well or poorly, but who cares. I think that I have the heart of a teacher, and that means I am more interested a lot of the time in people attempting poetry or prose or novels or whatever other art forms they might pursue. Most of the learning is in the production of things, not the finishing of things. It is the attempt that I find most interesting sometimes. And occasionally, we’re all filled with wonder when someone finishes a great novel or a great movie or a great song.

Or a great piece of prose.

I’ve always enjoyed prose, and to my way of thinking, it’s a compelling format with a few simple rules.

1. Keep it short or we’ll get bored.
2. Keep it interesting or we’ll get bored.
3. Let it show a love for language.
4. Let it lead me into wondering: about an idea, a viewpoint, an emotion, or even confusion over the prose itself. Perhaps deeper into my own mind to see what I might find there.

Just a few rules. But it’s actually a very tall order. Especially number 4. But it’s nice to have goals, don’t you think?

As for form: Poetry and song writing both have certain accepted (or self imposed) limitations, which is what makes them what they are. And that’s good. But those limitations can sometimes be a little stifling. On the other hand, full out novels often require a reasonable grounding in reality, or people just won’t keep up. (But some novels, like Joyce’s Ulysses, or the novels of writers like Toni Morrison, are often referred to as “prose,” or these works are thought to have large sections of prose in them because of the “poetic” use of language. A more popular (populistic?) example of this would be the writings of Ray Bradbury.)

Short stories are prose, in their way, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone about them not being prose. But prose, to my way of thinking, is shorter writing that has elements of poetry and story and even song writing. Yet, when you use the word “prose” you have a certain freedom, without the boundaries of rhyme or verse, to be cryptic or not, to be musical or not, to be focused on the sounds of words as much as the meanings of the words, etc. To suggest things that can stimulate thought without necessarily telling people what to think, and the personal views or ideas of the writer might be in there, or not. Which keeps it interesting.

One of my favorite bloggers, Zombie, just put this sentence in his latest post:  "I swear this summer is worse than any winter I have weathered while wearing a woolen wetsuit."

Now, that's a prosaic sentence. In the positive sense. The astonishing Dr. Seuss is smiling somewhere, me thinks. Satisfied.

I’ve posted a little prose here and there over the past few months. And, for fun, I’m going to post some of my prose over the next few days, and probably a little more down the road, when the mood strikes. I’ll tell you up front: it’s not great stuff. At least I don't think so. Just because I like prose doesn’t mean I’m very good at it. But if I thought it totally stunk, I'd never show it to you. Still, I enjoy the process. And, who knows, maybe something decent might come crawling up out of the attempt.

You never know.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

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