painting by Dmytro Ivashchenko on wikimedia — CC-by-SA 4.0

It’s 80 degrees on the quiet sand, at midnight
but the wind is howling and the rain is starting up again

There is no one on the beach —
it’s usually quiet here anyway, the resort beach is a bit narrow
and there’s more popular ones just up the path

I can’t sleep, so I put on my bathing suit, grab my little flashlight
and wander down across the grass, cursing the stones and shells
on my bare feet,
past the narrow strip of trees and shrubs
where the feral cats live,
just beyond where the low path lights cast their lovely glow

I find a beach chaise and drag it onto the sand
where the waves just reach, and lie down on it
staring at the moonless sky and the dark warm sea,
like a tropical Canute

And the rains come down, so hard you can’t see
and I’m soaked but it’s warm and crazy
and on impulse I strip off my suit and lie there, naked
asking for a sign

This is the first result of a (hopefully) daily creative writing practice. The objective is to keep writing until something is produced that (at least to me) meets five criteria:

  1. It is lyrical, using words carefully chosen to flow, to hang together smoothly and strikingly, and to be, in places (especially the title or the beginning or end), memorable.
  2. It is observant, invoking imagery to ‘notice’ something that the casual observer might easily miss.
  3. It evokes an emotional response, referencing something that stirs the memory or imagination, or a sense of recognition and connection in the reader. And it leaves something to the imagination.
  4. It evokes an intellectual response, showing the reader something they may have sensed but didn’t know before, or saying something in a clever way that lets what is described be seen in a new light. To this end, ambiguity is fine if it is deliberate and not mean-spirited or pretentious.
  5. It is spare, with everything that doesn’t add something, left out.

I think identifying the criteria above, and the process of assessing my work against them, is probably at least as important as the miniature creative works I am hoping it will produce. And I am hopeful that over time the quality of these works will improve. It’s about time, I think.


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1 Response to augury

  1. I enjoyed this Dave. The image. Your words. The criteria.

    Thank you.

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