Poetry. Writerly Advice. Memoir. Literary Analysis. Book Reviews. Serious Journalism.
Writing clear prose is imperative to a successful career in any writing field. As journalists, we must write clear, concise sentences that convey information quickly. Even if you are writing a human interest piece and are painting a picture for the reader, that picture better get painted quick. My favorite book to use when finishing a piece for a paper is Fiske's To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing.
Only two people out of ten will read beyond the title of your piece, no matter where they are reading it. That is a terrible odd. Help your work get read by using these tips to clean up your writing:
Using ambiguous pronouns can lead to confusion and draw the reader away from your main points. Consider the following sentences:
Passive Voice Constructions
This type of construction often leads to wordy and awkward sentences. Consider the following paragraph:
It is said that passive voice constructions are used too often by authors. As a result, wordy and awkward sentences may be created in an essay. These types of sentences are frequently made when imprecise language and terms are used by a writer. The audience may be confused when it is not made clear what the point of a sentence is. Mistakes in grammar can also be made. When these are made, interest in the paper may be lessened. Although many strong ideas may be contained in the paper, the audience’s interest is affected by the way that these ideas are presented. However, passive voice constructions and grammatical errors can be eliminated when time for proofreading is taken.
Passive voice constructions are easy to recognize because most of them follow a pattern:
“to be” verb + _____ed + preposition
“to be” verb Preposition
For example: The report was prepared by a researcher.
Rewrite the sentence as, "The researcher prepared the report." It sounds clearer and as a rule, aim for Subject-Verb coordination in your sentences.
“To Be” Verbs: is, am, are, was, were, has, have, had, be, being, and been
Common Prepositions in Passive Voice Constructions: in, with, and by
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when writing. I will deliver more writing tips next week.
who veiled me again
and packed coomb softly
Till a peer’s wife bribed him.
The plait of my hair
a slimy birth-cord
of bog, had been cut
And I rose from the dark,
The violent exploitation of Ireland caused by England during The Troubles is the main premise within Seamus Heaney’s poem, “Bog Queen”. The poem wrestles with resistance and historical prejudice. Heaney elicits visceral images depicting the resurrection of an ornately dressed female bog body (the jewels insinuate that she was of great wealth).
Prior to the passage indicated above, the poem elaborately describes the physical body of the bog woman (from the voice of the bog queen) being uncovered by the turfcutter who pays his respects to the woman after this abrupt discovery. However, through a bribe he betrays the bog queen, leaving her to rise and seek vengeance on those who have betrayed her in the past.
The violent tone married with the language signify that the bog queen represents Ireland. Furthermore, the prior mistreatment by England (and betrayal by some Irishmen) serves as the beginning of the rise of the Irish to regain equality. Through tone, and symbolic language, Seamus Heaney’s poem “Bog Queen” uses the exploitation of Ireland to argue that historical prejudice serves as the stepping-stone for resistance of a culture against external forces.
While the tone in the first three-quarters of “Bog Queen” is empathetic, an abrupt shift to a violent tone occurs between stanza twelve and thirteen. For example, the turfcutter, “…packed coomb softly” this illustrates that the man attempts to protect her by placing her back in the bog after being stripped of her belongings (Heaney line 46). He gently reburies her. Since the bog woman stands for Ireland, a country that was culturally assaulted by England this line empathizes with the turbulent treatment of the bog woman by trying to repair the damage through replacing her in her original state.
However, the tone shifts with, “Till a peer’s wife bribed him,” and the tone becomes that of betrayal as the bog woman details her hair being “cut” and taken from her without permission (49 and 52). This prejudice against the bog woman after the turfcutter had respected her sparks a violent vengeance in the bog woman/Ireland as she “rose from the dark” in fervor to resist this act of violence against her (53). This act of exploitation against the bog woman forces her up to revolt against the men and women who seek to strip her of her hair, which very much symbolizes her connection to her homeland, as it was the anchor keeping her in the land. Arguably, the empathetic tone shifts to a violent one as the bog woman was nearly at rest once again when somebody else chose to cut her from the characteristics that identify her as the bog queen.
The symbolic language within “Bog Queen” aids the transition from the empathetic to violent tone, as well as bears striking connotations that lend to the theme of resistance against historical prejudice. The diction in “Bog Queen” is two-fold: the connotation of the nouns and the selection of verbs to describe the action. First, the nouns are “coomb” (46), “peer’s wife” (49), “plait” (50), and “birth-cord” (51). The word coomb connotes the chalk downs of Ireland, which is a physical characteristic of the land. To pack the bog woman in a physical structure of Ireland suggests that she is a part of the land and removing her from it would sever her from her past. Thus, the diction lends to the empathetic tone and it argues that the turfcutter is aware that this woman has a nation and a history that exists regardless of the uncovering of her body. Heaney situates that body in her physical history in order to give rise to resistance as she is severed from her homeland in the violent cutting of her hair.
Moreover, the term “peer’s wife” suggests that the turfcutter was sexually bribed in order to cut the “plait” from the bog woman. Since peer is equivalent to friend, it works well with the concept of manipulating relations in order to achieve a goal, as the English did with Ireland’s people during the national conflicts. This manipulation raises the tone of betrayal as the reader witnesses the bog queen’s “plait”, an intertwining braid of hair being cut from her body and separating her from the past prejudices committed against her. Furthermore, the noun, “birth-cord” solidifies the natural connection between the woman and her motherland. Her hair serves has the umbilical cord between her and her land.
This sparks the bog woman to rise from the bog and seek vengeance on those who have attempted to separate her from her land and her culture. Not only does the cutting of the braid signify historical prejudice against the woman/Ireland, but also it allows the woman/Ireland to stand up and resist any further exploitation of the land that is home.
As the nouns provide insight to the theme by adding to the tone of the poem, the action verbs, “veiled” (45) and “bribed” (49) create the violent change from the bog woman passively lying in the land to the active resistance against those who have attempted to keep her oppressed. The term “veiled” is strong in that the bog woman was brought up from the bog, her valuables were taken, and then those who brought her to the surface put her back in the bog and “veiled” her from the world. Her eyes are covered and she cannot fight for her own rising from the dark. The term “veiled” (45) in this line sounds similar to the cliché “pull the wool over your eyes” in that external forces are hiding the truths of the exploitation from the bog queen. The word symbolizes those who are veiling the woman, as well as those who are choosing to put a veil over their own eyes in order to avoid seeing the destruction on their country and their people. The connotation of “veiled” segues into “bribed”, another manipulative verb within stanzas twelve and thirteen.
The verb “bribed” (49) suggests that there is a value threshold for the turfcutter to betray his bog queen. In this line, a woman seduces him with a bribe (money or sex) in order to get a hold of the powerful braid that connects the bog woman to the boglands. To be bribed suggests a weakness within the framework of the people of the land in that they are not strong enough to support their own land; however this demonstrates that Ireland’s historical past (or any historical prejudice) impacts the country’s ability to stand up to those that have taken advantage of the people. However, this bribe is the mechanism that enables the land to regain itself. By succumbing to the bribe, the turfcutter releases the “veiled” queen, which indirectly leads to her “[rise] from the dark” (51). These final lines are a warning of resistance should any person attempt to veil the bog queen or her people in the future.
The theme of historical prejudice on a people or a land and the rise of a resistance are strong throughout the “Bog Queen” as Heaney examines the impacts of the conflicts in Ireland regarding the position of Northern Ireland. In “Bog Queen”, the bog woman serves as the physical and cultural land that has been exploited by England. Moreover, the violent tone and symbolic language suggest a political warning to those who have violated the bog queen’s land in the past.
Want more literary analysis? Check out my essay collection.
To celebrate the release of my book, written to raise money for a local literacy group on Oregon, I am offering the ebook free from March 5th through March 9th on Amazon.
The collection touches on topics such as gender and class in a variety of literary works. If you know a college student who needs insight into some of the best literature in the world, guide them to my book!
Since I haven't been writing much poetry this year due my other goals, I have found poetry-writing-solace in Haiku. If you haven't written haiku before, it's simple to learn and you may find that the constraint frees your imagination (seems counter intuitive, but constraint-based writing creates incredibly productive writers).
A haiku is THREE LINES that look like this:
LINE 1: FIVE SYLLABLES
LINE 2: SEVEN SYLLABLES
LINE 3: FIVE SYLLABLES
Here is a HAIKU a wrote this morning --
Middle sexed finger
Today I learned that I hate small round tables. You can't do anything on them but set your stuff or a notepad. You can't do school work with your kid at the same time you munch on carrots and hummus. You can work from a laptop and teach division, either. And if you want a pizza AND plates...well fuck you very much says the round table.
2017 sucked. It was my least productive year in 10 years.
I've decided to change that by making up for it in 2018. I do like even numbers, so it's fate, I suppose. This year I will write 2,000 words every day with my focus being on nonfiction and not poetry. I do love poetry, but right now I can't dedicate scheduled time to it...and anyways my best poetry comes from whims, not structure. So, when a poem strikes, I'll write it. Other than that, I'm going to write essays, articles, and a memoir.
I've also decided that I will not be submitting my work anywhere until this summer once I've had time to polish up my recent completion.
DEFINITION: A poem guided by the alphabet. Each line or stanza begins with the first letter of the alphabet followed by each letter following, until the last letter is reached. Variations of the form occur.
ORIGIN: An ancient poetic form that was commonly used to compose letters, prayers, and hymns. The modern literary world relies on this form for children's books, mnemonic devices and lullabies (think Edward Gorey and Dr. Seuss).
RHYME PATTERN: Varies. Contemporary abecedarian poetry doesn't rhyme, but there are clear metrical relationships. Children's versions often rhyme and are very sing-songy.
EXAMPLES: John Disch's Abecedary, Carolyn Forché's Blue Hour, Edward Gorey, Dr. Seuss, and Mary Jo Bang's The Bride of E
A few weeks ago, my contract as a curriculum writer expired. It was a wonderful contract, but I knew that my work was done and there wasn’t an option for renewal (I had to say goodbye to $50 an hour, five hour days!). That left me scrambling for work to fill my schedule. You see, I work as a managing editor for Unsolicited Press, but that doesn’t result in a paycheck. It’s all ROI work and someday it will pay off, but today isn’t the day. I usually fill my days with freelance projects (editing and writing), but this fall has been slow, so I have been looking into a few outlets. Here is what I came up with – these companies are hiring in 2018 and if you are looking for a job, it’s important to get on board early.
Others that were hiring in 2017 and may still have positions open:
GreatAuPair, The Hartford, Motorola Solutions, Western Governors University, Walden University, Crawford & Company, Overland Solutions, an EXL company, Cigna, SYKES, Citizens Bank, Achieve Test Prep, Kronos, CVS Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Lenovo, and American Heart Association.
November 2017 marks National Author Day and it also marks the beginning of the 2017 NaNoWriMo! I am taking it on this year with the hope of writing a very incredible story. My username is Rebelwriter28 and I would love for you to take a look at the project.
Because I am taking on such a huge project (I've been planning the book for some time now), I am also trying to raise enough money to take on the publishing of it myself. Given that I am intimately aware of the publishing process due to my job, I have a step above others, but it is still going to cost quite a bit of money. To help offset the costs of the publication, I've set up a Kickstarter with some amazing rewards. I don't believe in taking money for free, so everybody will get something for supporting this venture.
It is taking a lot of courage on my part to share this journey and I hope that everybody will be supportive of the process. If you can help me by donating, that would be great.
If you would like to write a novel with me this November, sign up at NaNoWriMo and connect!
I am sending my poetry manuscript out to presses. I've just received my first rejection on the book! Woo Hoo! I do love rejections. Here are a few places I've sent the book:
This list will grow. Have any ideas?
I don't want good company & good fires & good vibes.
I don't want to talk to you about the heat or the cold.
I don't want to hear about how making time for you would make me happier.
I don't like black roosters or cocks. It's not very funny. It's racist.
I don't think being a proud homophobe is attractive.
I don't want to talk about what we did eight years ago.
I can't just get married because you think you still love me.
Being a freelance writer is strange because I don't have to leave the house, but that doesn't mean I don't like feeling good about what I wear. I shop at ModCloth like my money is never-ending, but I always make sure the pieces last for a VERY long time.
And I always make sure that I get a good deal. Recently, I got 25% off my $100 order! F-yes. Seriously? That makes me so excited. Since I am so excited about my deal, I wanted to share with you what I bought!
Making the decision to become a writer is a tough one because there is a lot of negative stigma out there, but you shouldn't let that stop you. Writers can and do make a living in this world. In fact, I'd argue that writers are in greater need than ever before with the explosion of the Information Age.
Once you've decided to pursue writing, whether you are 18 or 57, you need to tell your family and friends. To help you, I've prepared a few statements that you can use to break the news. Enjoy.
The team I work with at Skinny2Strong nutrition and fitness consulting is so wonderful, and we have just finished our latest fitness and nutrition guide (after sitting on it for six months!).
My team, a combination of wellness coaches, nutritionists, and fitness aficionados have helped me write a book that aims to help people change their lives. It's not a diet and workout book; it's a book that asks folks to get off their asses and embrace an active lifestyle. We ask people to stop using their cars as much as their feet. We ask them to eat right and enjoy the little things in life.
It was so fun to write that I wanted to share it here for anybody who may be interested in taking a look at it. If you are interested in a FREE copy, I'd be happy to provide it in exchange for a review on Amazon. Leave a comment below.
Otherwise, you can snag it on Amazon.
For those of you who don't know, I love food. I am working on my master's in nutrition right now and I love food. Part of my mission is to establish myself as an expert in food and nutrition. The best way to do that is to guest post on ads many blogs as possible (in addition to other things of course!).
Since I've been doing my research, I wanted to share with you what I found, in case you are a food writer and looking for new guest post outlets.
My best buddy and I both homeschool our children. Not together. But in spirit. With the new school year coming around the corner, I have to shift from my summer schedule to my academic schedule. Which sucks because I got used to the little one reading books while I work. Now, I must put on my thinking cap for another graceful year of education.
I wanted to share with you my schedule because maybe you homeschool. Maybe you work at home. Maybe you want to pull all of your hair out because you cant get your shit together. Who knows.
This is my plan for the academic year.
Music is more powerful than any other art form.
It beats the heart.
It incites tears and inspires lovers to part and come together again.
It reminds us that love is the most important goal.
Music is immortal
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.