Sarah: Hello everyone, welcome back to Dear Writer. Today, we are on to episode 20, and it is one of our main episodes, and we have, I kind of want to say it’s a bit of a treat but then it… you might not consider it a treat so… we are having a cringey poetry slam.
Ashley: Oh my goodness. We are!
Sarah: It could be hilarious and entertaining, perhaps not really… perhaps treat is the wrong word, though.
Ashley: Yeah I think so. You get to experience our poetry. Maybe we’ll put it way.
Sarah: Yeah, yeah.
Ashley: It can be our celebration for our 20th episode.
Ashley: You all get to listen to our poetry.
Sarah: Mm hmm.
Ashley: Loosely termed poetry, so it’s not… it’s fine, it’s fine. Before we do that, we should probably give you all a quick update on our writing.
Ashley: What have you been up to this past month, Sarah?
Sarah: Not too much, again.
Ashley: That’s okay.
Sarah: I am about 1500 words through my chapter now, so I’m making slow progress, but it is very slow. Sat down last night, did another like 200/300 words before I got stuck again. My main issue is that it’s just a lot of research, as per usual.
Ashley: Mm hmm.
Sarah: And so, if anyone’s considering writing historical fiction, there is a lot of research that goes into it.
Ashley: Yes, I can agree.
Sarah: A surprising amount, like I didn’t… I knew that there was going to be a lot, but even so, you just like start writing and you’re like, oh. What sort of food did they eat? What did the room look like?
Sarah: You know, even… and even little things like in ancient Greece, the men typically would eat before the woman, or they’d eat in separate rooms. But then for special occasions it’s kind of hard to tell what really happened. And so we’re writing this—well I’m writing this particular feast that happens. And it’s sort of after a funeral, so it’s kind of like a special occasion, and the family typically get together to have a feast after they’ve buried the person, but then, it is hard to tell whether they would have still eaten separately, or whether they would have eaten together as a family, or who actually came to these feasts, what they ate. At least I know that they’re probably drinking wine so, there’s that.
Ashley: You’ve gotten that far, that’s good. I was gonna say, it’s kind of weird the whole research thing, because we did try and write this book before, and I felt we didn’t do as much research as—
Ashley: —we do for this one. So obviously we must at least be doing a better job at being accurate.
Sarah: Yes. I would agree. Yeah I don’t think we really even thought about it that much last time, so at least this time it’ll be much more ah, correct to the time period.
Ashley: Probably doesn’t help that this is pretty much your first chapter really in the past.
Sarah: Yes, that is the other thing. Is trying to get a grasp on all these new people and how they might interact, which is very confusing because there’s some weird dynamics going on in the group, so yeah. How… how’s things going for you in the writing space?
Ashley: I think it’s been going fairly well, so I think last time I spoke, I said I had started a new chapter. I finished that chapter, ended up being quite long. I think 5500 words? So that was a lot longer than I had anticipated it being. I think in that chapter, Sarah and I also had a… there was one point where I said, maybe I’ll just end it here, because it was at 4000 words, I think.
Sarah: And I was like no.
Ashley: Yeah, Sarah’s like, no keep going. I was like, okay. Ended up being another 1500 words or so after that. Things take time, I think to write, which is like a problem. So all I wanted to do was like have them like walk out of the city, but for some reason you can’t just have them walk out of the city, you have to like, build up to them walking out of the city. And then it’s kind of weird if you just skip this whole three hour walk, where they don’t know each other and they’re just going to be walking in silence so, then you have to have them have like a conversation. Then they get to their destination you can’t just end it again you have to sort of tease it out, so it ended up being a bit longer, but that’s okay.
Sarah: Well I had to walk back.
Ashley: Oh no.
Sarah: I guess I could have started a little bit later, but it just made sense to kind of like flow from your chapter. So then like I swear there’s like a page or two of like simply walking back. And then like I’m not even… I’m like 1500 words through, I’m not even up to like the original chapter point.
Ashley: Oh no, oh no.
Sarah: And I’m like, maybe I should just give it up and then have the entire feast in this chapter and then make the next one the next chapter, but.
Ashley: You always push the next chapter into a different one, if you have to.
Sarah: Well that’s what I was thinking, I might just do. Just add another chapter.
Ashley: Anyways, so I finished that chapter and I’ve started the next one, which is still in the past, but with a different character. I’m about 1700 words through. It was kind of interesting because the first bullet point of this new chapter just said, we learn about Leontiades’ life. Helpful. So, I kind of took some… I took a bit of license and I’ve created him a love interest, and I’ve had this character appear as a spy and tell him some information at his house. Because I realized that we never have this information come out in any of the chapter plans later, so I thought it would be kind of interesting. We kind of refer to the information but they’re all from Simon’s perspective so unless someone directly tells him what happened—which might be a bit weird given it was sort of secret-ish.
Ashley: So I thought I’d have it in this chapter, which I think works, but now the next half of this chapter is supposed to be at a, at a sacrifice. So I think I’m going to be where Sarah is, stuck in research for a while longer.
Sarah: Yeah. The fun of research. It is kind of fun, but it is…
Ashley: I enjoy it, it’s just sometimes you get a bit a little bit stuck, I think. I was going to say, at least all of my chapters, except one, have been in the past. So the sort of mundane-y stuff now I can write a lot quicker, like the start of this chapter. Just because I don’t have to research every single detail anymore, I kind of remember some of it, so it ends up being okay. And I’d at least already had… well because I had done all the research for what courtyards looks like for the previous chapter, he is in a courtyard so I was like, ha ha, I know this, I know what courtyards look like. So that was okay. But other than that Sarah and I had our beta readers get back to us, or beta reader get back to us.
Sarah: Oh yeah .
Ashley: For our teen fiction series which was very exciting.
Sarah: Yes, and they pointed out something, and we’re like yeah, they’re probably right. Which led to us basically, creating an entire… well. The character was already there, but she was just like kind of in the background. And now…
Ashley: Mentioned like, once.
Sarah: Yeah. And now we have added chapters from her perspective, but we decided we had to add them throughout the book, you can’t just add like one at the end, so now we have four more chapters to write of that book.
Ashley: Yeah. And I whole new character.
Sarah: Yeah. So that’s exciting. Not anticipated, but…
Ashley: No. It’s really, it’s kind of like what I was saying before how you come up with an idea, I think her comment was something like “I wish we had more time in whatever location.”
Sarah: Yes, yeah.
Ashley: And then you’re like, mmm you’re right, and it seems like a simple fix, you could just add a chapter, maybe somewhere, and then you know we talked about it, and we were like, oh. That doesn’t really work, how can we add more time? And then it ends up kind of snowballing.
Ashley: I think this is definitely the right choice, though.
Sarah: Yeah definitely. And that was the other thing that the beta reader said, she did suggest adding another character and we’ve had her suggest this before in the past with a different book and we’re kind of like, um no not at that point, but this time we were like actually that’s a potential fix for what we want to do, and so yeah. It’s going to be quite a full book.
Sarah: There’s a lot going on, but…
Ashley: Oh my goodness. Yeah, quite… it will end up being quite long as well, I think.
Sarah: Yeah. Just for the listeners, this is Darkness, Set Us Free that we’re talking about, so the third in our teen series. Very exciting, though.
Ashley: It currently comes in at over a hundred thousand words already, doesn’t it?
Sarah: I think it was about ninety-eight.
Ashley: Oh ninety-eight, yeah that’s okay.
Sarah: Yeah, so I think it’s gonna be around a hundred and ten-ish, a hundred and twelve? Hundred and ten, probably.
Ashley: Hundred and ten, I think. I think we might struggle to make them extra… like I think we’ll hit three thousand words likely for each one, they don’t like they’re super full chapter plans. So hopefully. It’ll bring an interesting new dynamic to our book, I think.
Sarah: Yeah. It might actually, even though her situation isn’t all that cheery, it um, it still might cheer the book up slightly.
Ashley: Be a welcome break from the drama of the other characters.
Sarah: Yeah. Anyways we should probably carry on with the main point to our episode.
Ashley: Yes, yes.
Sarah: The poetry, the cringey poetry slam.
Ashley: Yes. So I thought I’d um, we thought we’d make it a little bit, you know, have a poetry slam have a little bit we’ll say more meaning to it, I guess. So I think as writers, you know, it’s normal to not be good at every single part of writing. So, you know, and I think it’s okay. So some people might struggle with, for example short stories, which we also struggle with. Or some people might struggle with writing novels and for other people novel writing might be the strength. But for us poetry is definitely a weakness, and I really admire people who are able to write poetry and write it well, especially when it comes out so elegant and well written, whereas I think you’ll have a… when you hear some of ours, you will see that ours don’t.
Sarah: Yeah, like oh, not quite hitting the note there.
Ashley: So, Sarah and I thought that we would share some of… um I’m going to say ‘best’ in quotation marks, our best poems with you. Hopefully, on one hand we can all have a little bit of a laugh, but on the other hand. it’s really hard to get better at things or turn weaknesses into your strengths, if you don’t acknowledge that you have them, so this episode is I guess all about that. It’s Sarah and I acknowledging that one of our writing weaknesses is poetry and we’re hoping, one day, that we will get better at it, and become better at writing in the process. In other words, we will, as Sarah has said, this is our inaugural cringey poetry slam. But before we start sharing some of these poems, I think we could have a little talk about why it’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses in the first place. Obviously, you can apply this to your life in general, but I think we’ll stick to just in a writing sense this time. What do you think Sarah?
Sarah: Yeah. Well, I mean as you’ve said, you can never you can never improve if you have no idea what your weaknesses are, and I’ve discovered that although I will never be a poet, probably, I think they’re really good exercise to do just to help you think about using words in different ways and expanding your vocabulary. Even if you’re not any good at it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try because it might help you in ways that you don’t expect. For example, recently have had this new book that I’m reading about writing, and it’s about horror writing, and one of the authors—like it has little pieces from other authors in the book as well, and one of them I can’t really remember, whether it was the main author of the book or whether it was in one of the little dialogues. But they talked about horror writing often uses a broader range of vocabulary and, at times, has a poetic feel to it. Which kind of explains my thoughts on a book that I read, Sawkill Girls, which we did talk about in one of our earlier talking shop episodes. So it makes me think that maybe exploring and pushing the boundaries, whether it be poetry, nonfiction, short stories, they can all help to improve your craft, even if it’s like a totally different form. What do you think Ashley?
Ashley: I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think that’s a really good point about how you can use other forms of writing like poetry like you said to help you one, expand your vocabulary and two, I guess explore other… I’m going to go with genres, I guess, and other ways of writing. Which I suppose would then help you in your normal writing, whatever that may be. Maybe even inspire creativity. Maybe that’s something we should do on a culturing creativity. We can have some themed poetry or something see if that helps. But yeah, you definitely can’t improve or get better at anything if you don’t know what that thing is. And I think it would have been last episode on this main podcast we talked about what we struggled with when it came to writing, writing novels. And so we acknowledge, some of those. And I think acknowledging this here will hopefully help us, at least improve in some way, maybe. So Sarah and I actually wanted to include poetry, in our books before. But they were really cringey so we removed them, and—
Sarah: Along with the rest of the book, basically.
Ashley: —that’s not to say that we might not… um. But that’s not to say that we don’t, won’t want to do it again. I quite like sometimes when books have a little… I don’t you call it, an epigraph maybe at the start kind of thing? Where you’ve got a little poem or something, something there.
Sarah: Or even just when, like I’ve read a couple of books where there’s a couple of poems that the characters have written throughout. Which is kind of how we were attempting to include them in our book, but it just… yeah. It didn’t work for us at that point, but maybe in the future.
Ashley: Maybe in the future. So maybe, yeah. Maybe one day we’ll be, we’ll feel confident enough in writing poetry that we can include it, but until that day we’ll just embrace where we’re at, at the moment.
Sarah: I think what was really weird is that it wasn’t just one character who was including the poems, it was like three of them or something.
Ashley: Every single character, almost. I don’t think, I don’t think Levi I wrote any poems. That would have been way off character.
Sarah: I don’t think Dylan did, either. Dylan didn’t. There was poems in his chapters, but it wasn’t his poems.
Ashley: That’s really weird. Would someone like write a poem, and give it to him?
Sarah: Lizzie was sharing hers.
Ashley: That’s so much worse, that’s so weird.
Sarah: I know. Well I don’t think she was necessarily willingly sharing them. He was just like, sitting beside her.
Ashley: So he’s like creepily spying while she’s writing poetry.
Ashley: Okay, alright. So um, with that brief discussion out of the way, I guess it’s time for us to share some poems with you. I don’t know whether to apologize in advance for some of these poems, or let you make up your own mind. But I do hope you enjoy them. Do you want to go first? Or do you want me to go first?
Sarah: I can go first. Um I…
Ashley: You can go first?
Sarah: I tried to include like a selection of some that are more recent, some that are like when I was a teenager, and so I tried also, I tried to include like a gradation of cringey-ness. So the first one is kind of on that middle range. Like it’s not too bad, it’s a little bit weird, but I wrote it when I was seventeen, I think, probably around abouts. It’s called The Destitute Queen.
Ashley: What a title.
Tentative, the smile slips
Clarity, truth, inception
Unbroken queen, where is your love?
A mask! She cries, a mask!
Anguish provides her frosty eyes
Plastic face returned
For why would one remember
the truth; the innocent are slaughtered
Pigs destroy the lamb
Come, cast your treasure
Away, away I say
The sea swallows all
Finery? Why claims she
None so fine as the promised one
The Queen bows lowest,
Not one can match
Her courageous stoop, uncompromised
Oh yes, shame, demise
But glorious, she again will rise
Ashley: It’s one of those ones, it sounds quite good, but some of the lines are confusing!
Sarah: I don’t really know what it means.
Ashley: It’s like, you’re like, oh it sounds good, but I don’t know… yeah. I’m not entirely sure what it means.
Sarah: I read it, and I was like—because I, you know, I haven’t seen some of these poems for ages and I read it recently, and I was like—either I was a genius or… just… I don’t know. It’s just totally random and weird, not really quite sure which. It’s one of those ones where it’s like, it could have a really deep meaning to it but…
Ashley: You’re like but I don’t know what it is anymore.
Sarah: I don’t know what it is ,and I’m the author, so…
Ashley: Like I think the first—what is it called, stanza? I don’t even know my poetry terms.
Sarah: Neither do I, I just write.
Ashley: The first paragraph thing, in the poem. It makes sense, I think. I kind of feel like you know it’s talking about a queen and she has to, she like has a mask, quote unquote mask that she like has on, to face people, was kind of what I’m getting from it.
Sarah: yeah I, I have a feeling that she’s trying to like hide this…
Ashley: Yeah, like hide her true self or whatever it is, behind something. But then after that I don’t know. I don’t know where the pigs come into it.
Sarah: Yeah. Me neither.
Ashley: That’s one question I have. Are they eating the lamb? Are they meant to be men?
Sarah: It says pigs destroy the lamb, so I don’t really know what that means. And I feel like that’s kind of a religious undertone to it, I was quite religious at that age. I mean, I still am but I’m not… I’m a lot less intense about it. I’m a lot less intense about a lot of things, to be fair.
Ashley: It sounds good. I’m reading it again and it’s… it gets weirder the second time through.
Sarah: I know. It’s a bit of a mystery. And then it goes kind of Titanic.
Ashley: It does, I was just thinking that.
Sarah: With the treasure in the sea. It’s very interesting. Should we move on to your first poem?
Sarah: Since we’re unable to quite decipher mine.
Ashley: Sure, um. So I haven’t written poetry in a long time, mostly because they’re not good. And I acknowledge that, and I um, I don’t like doing things I’m not good at, which I think goes for a lot of people, not many people put themselves through exercises that they aren’t very good at.
Sarah: That’s true.
Ashley: Especially when I could do other things. Oh my god, you should see my dog, in the background, chewing up a duvet. You can keep this in the podcast if you want, it’s kind of amusing. Um, anyways…
Ashley: So I will, before I share my poems I’m going to pre warn everyone that I have a weird thing about rhyming. I don’t know why, it’s like I can’t write a poem without rhyming and that’s, that’s true even for the couple poems that I’ve written in adulthood. So, this poem, I would say I was probably seventeen or eighteen when I wrote this poem. I have called it Destiny. I think when you were a teenager, for some reason you really like big themes, apparently.
Ashley: Okay, so here we go.
When all you sew
And what you know
Gets buried in the snow
Your love is dead
And hope is dread
All has left your head
The shocking truth
And undeniable youth
You must make a truce
Your body lives
Others are sieved
What is left to give?
Why are you here?
What pain does sear?
What is it that you fear?
You must be cued
You must stay true
For destiny is here for you.
Sarah: I quite like, I quite like the first verse. The, the one that I started struggling with…
Ashley: Which one could it be?
Sarah: Others are sieved.
Ashley: I know. I think that might, that might be my favorite poetry line ever written; your body lives, and others are sieved, what is left to give. It’s like I just needed something that rhymed, and I picked sieved. But it doesn’t really rhyme. And it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Sarah: I’m trying to think like, so other people’s bodies are sieved?
Ashley: I don’t, I don’t know. I think it might be trying to say, like other… like separated from other people, I think.
Ashley: But I ca—I don’t know.
Sarah: Maybe it’s something about, like souls.
Ashley: It could be, it could be. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Sarah: In which case it nearly works.
Ashley: I don’t know why, I’ve used, I’ve used a lot of words that I feel take away from the poem. Like, undeniable—it’s a bit weird. And cued.
Sarah: No, I quite like that bit.
Ashley: Do you?
Sarah: The cued is a bit strange. You must be cued, you must stay true. Like it works, it’s just, it feels slightly out of…
Ashley: Yes, like others sieved, ah the whole thing’s just… this is why I’m not a poet. I’m not a poet.
Sarah: I like the way it starts; when all you sow, and what you know, gets buried in the snow. I like that part.
Ashley: Maybe we should just be a really short poem, that can be it. We can ignore the rest of it. Feel like that might be a theme, you have a good idea for the beginning and then you like, uh, what do I do? Let’s just rhyme some things. Seems to be what I do.
Sarah: That’s great.
Ashley: Would you like to share your next poem?
Sarah: Sure. I’m just getting to it. Um, so this one I also wrote around probably the same time as last one. It’s definitely worse, I would say.
Sarah: I don’t really rhyme with mine that much, I think I consciously tried to keep away from rhyming, but anyways. I’m just gonna let you enjoy this poem.
Sarah: It’s called Who Am I? A classic question when you’re at that age, I think.
Ashley: Again, big questions, big questions.
Sarah: Yes, okay, here we go.
As stunning as a butterfly
As plain as a moth
As rich as the rainbow
As lifeless as a smothered candle
A well of hope, brimming with joy
A barren wasteland where the wretched lie
A bubble of life in a desecrated world
An ocean lamenting in disappear
A kiss of peace, a wail of regret
A cup of love, a stream of sorrow
Tormented, anguished, suffering and hurt
I fly demon like, red-eyed and drenched in a cloak of anger
But loving, faithful, compassionate and gentle
Bird-like; I hop, I hop, I hop
Sarah: Playful—ah, shit. [dissolves into laughter]. I knew I wasn’t going to get through it without cracking up laughing!
Ashley: It was the “I hop, I hop, I hop.” I just couldn’t.
Sarah: I’m not—okay, I’m just… sorry.
Ashley: I’m really sorry.
Sarah: I tried so hard.
Ashley: That was my fault.
Sarah: No, I couldn’t even see you. I was just reading the poem. Ah, now I’m crying.
Ashley: Okay, continue on.
Sarah: Okay, I will just continue on with that line, and try and get through it.
Bird-like; I hop, I hop, I hop
Playfully bouncing over a tainted land.
I am all these things;
In desolation I search for redemption
Seeking for God’s wisdom wishing for his strength
Blissful I cry
Not tears of sadness, nor tears of happiness
No tears of misery, no tears of gladness
But tears of love.
Sarah: Oh my God, sorry. I couldn’t even get through that. Blissful, I cry.
Ashley: Oh, my God. It…
Sarah: Oh dear.
Ashley: I like how it starts off in one style and then just becomes another style.
Sarah: It, it just suddenly changes, to this…
Ashley: Oh, my goodness.
Sarah: Tormented, anguished, suffering and hurt. It’s like, what?
Ashley: And the sentences like progressively get longer and longer and longer until we get to the, I fly demon-like, red-eyed and drenched in a cloak of anger. We started off so innocent, we were stunning as a moth—ah, stunning as a butterfly, and plain as a moth, and now we’re at the tormented anguished suffering.
Sarah: The first bits just like this list. Like it’s… it’s like I’m just like sitting there going, what else, there must be something else, what else?
Ashley: As lifeless as a smothered candle. Oh, so good.
Sarah: A kiss a peace, of wail of regret. Oh dear.
Ashley: Oh, what a poem.
Sarah: I know.
Ashley: And the bird-like part.
Sarah: The bird-like part makes it.
Ashley: I just couldn’t…
Sarah: I hop, I hop, I hop. Like what is that?
Ashley: I don’t even know, like where? It came out of nowhere! Do you think you went to the bird part, is it because you said, you fly demon-like, and you were like, aha! Birds also fly.
Ashley: I hop, I hop, I hop. Ah that’s so excellent.
Sarah: Oh, my goodness that’s amazing.
Ashley: Oh. Oh, they’re so funny.
Sarah: So funny. I don’t think that one needs any further explanation.
Ashley: Nope, no. I think it just stands on its own there.
Ashley: It makes a little more sense than the first, The Destitute Queen, I think.
Sarah: I feel it’s a lot less deep. And quite strange, but yeah. We’ll move on. So what’s, what’s your next one?
Ashley: So my next one also would come from a similar time as my last one. Maybe a bit later I’m going to say I was probably definitely eighteen when I wrote this one. Not that it’s any better than the last one, but. So, mine is called What is a Dream. Again, big questions in a teenager’s mind. Alrighty, here we go.
A dream is what your heart desires
Your deepest darkest secrets ever
A dream is all you want and hate
Your best and worst times and dates
Your dream is love
Your dream is hate
Your dream will never ever fade
A dream is what you’re trying to forget
Your greatest terrored moment yet
A dream is all you truly fear
That moment that you dread to hear
When love is gone
And what’s left is hate
Your dream will always carry faith
A dream is what you call a treasure
The gold and silver ring forever
A dream is only for a second
But a memory is what you beckon
Ashley: I think the ending is strong.
Ashley: The beginning. Again, just like weirdly…
Sarah: The beginning is actually alright as well, it’s the middle part.
Ashley: It’s the weird rhyming parts, in the middle, where I don’t know what I want to say anymore, and just start kind of saying things, and changing up—
Sarah: Well it starts off rhyming, and then it stops rhyming.
Ashley: And then it kind of comes back.
Sarah: And then it starts, yeah, rhyming again.
Ashley: Consistency is the issue.
Sarah: And then it stops rhyming, and then it starts rhyming again. So I guess it’s like, every second verse it stops rhyming. So I guess it’s got consistency.
Ashley: Changes styles halfway… it’s… yep. I should have just had the last, the last verse I think would be enough, just ignore the beginning.
Sarah: I dream is what you call a treasure, the gold and silver ring forever, a dream is only for a second, but a memory is what you beckon. Yes. That does sound quite nice by itself.
Ashley: Take out, take out all the rest of whatever this is. The ‘terrored moment yet.’ I don’t even know.
Sarah: A dream is all you truly fear.
Ashley: Yes. Apparently. Your dream will never ever fade except for it beckons a memory, so I don’t know. Bit contradictory. I would say, this is probably one of my better poems, which I think is saying something.
Sarah: In some ways, I actually like the other one better.
Ashley: Do you? The other one… oh, it has some moments. They both have, amongst the weirdness.
Sarah: I love the dramatic end. For destiny is here for you.
Ashley: That’s very um, I was gonna say that’s very When the Rain Falls-esque.
Ashley: Speaking of When the Rain Falls…
Sarah: Yes, that is the name of my next one.
Ashley: Maybe I should say both, I think both of these poems come from.
Sarah: Well, actually the next one is inspired by it, but for me the next one, I actually wrote quite recently, so.
Ashley: Is it in? Oh no.
Sarah: No, it was never in.
Ashley: What was the one that was in? Because you had, we used to have one at the very start.
Sarah: There’s a lot of them! The one that the start I considered sharing that, but it’s more of a song than a poem.
Ashley: Oh, okay. Okay.
Sarah: Because it seems to have repeated verses.
Sarah: Where it’ll be like, it’ll have a verse and then it will have the chorus, and then it will have a verse and then the chorus or whatever.
Ashley: Why are we so weird?
Sarah: I didn’t want to like repeat myself so much, so I decided not to share that one.
Ashley: Makes sense. Because that—was that the one that used to be the prologue? We had one used to be—
Sarah: Yes, yeah.
Ashley: Okay. Alright, go for it.
Sarah: Alright, so as I said, this one, I actually wrote quite recently. For a bit of a change, so you can hopefully see a bit of improvement over the years.
Ashley: Well, I can say just from looking at it, at least it has a consistent form.
Ashley: Anyway, continue.
Sarah: Okay. And it’s inspired on our first book. And so I called it When the Rain Falls after our first book.
Skies are growing dark
Purpling clouds roll in from the south
In an upside-down world
My hair is charged
Frizzing around delicate shoulders
Waiting for release
Our land is quiet
Suspended in an eerie, noiseless vacuum
The storm is coming
It is calm,
When the rain falls
Bleak fog sets in
Trees, shapeless monsters in the mist
Rising with victorious arms
Creeks become streams
And streams become rivers, cascading
Such a long way down
Mud is thick,
Suctioning and slurping at boots
But they do not belong
Ashley: It’s definitely improved. Significant improvement, I think.
Sarah: Yeah. I think you can kind of see what’s going on in it a lot more. Sets the mood.
Ashley: Yeah, you know what it means also. Like it has a story that you can follow. Not really a story, it has… you can understand what the ideas are suggesting, and what you’re talking about.
Sarah: Especially if you know what the books about as well.
Ashley: Yeah, definitely.
Sarah: The last verse makes sense.
Ashley: It does.
Sarah: Even though it may not make sense, on its own, but…
Ashley: I think that the first… ah, yeah. The first part, it really sounds like the first paragraph from Lizzie’s first chapter. It’s very reminiscent of that, as soon as you read it, I was like, oh yeah!
Sarah: I think the purpling clouds. Because I did have that kind of in mind, I think, when…
Ashley: Yeah. Not that, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just exactly, that’s what I thought of. It’s like oh, that’s exactly how I imagined Lizzie’s first chapter. I like the, the bleak fog sets in, trees, shapeless monsters in the mist. I like that part. Sounds really cool.
Sarah: So that one. I think, I’ve improved a bit. It’s still, like you know, I had no idea what form actually is, so I just try and do what sounds good. So I was like, uh you know, three lines per pa—stanza or whatever you call it.
Ashley: And then the two lines in the middle, that’s punchy.
Sarah: Yeah, exactly. Just make it up as I go along.
Ashley: You can tell we don’t analyze a lot of poetry.
Sarah: Yeah, so. That was my attempt at structure.
Ashley: I like it. Definitely, an improvement.
Sarah: Anyways, should we hear your last one?
Ashley: Sure. So my next one comes from our first book?
Sarah: I actually really like this one. It’s because… it’s quite cute.
Ashley: It comes from our first book and I think one of my characters write… one of my characters writes it, I think… do you remember?
Sarah: Yeah, I think it’s Grace.
Ashley: Yes, yes.
Sarah: I’m pretty sure it’s Grace that writes it, and I imagine that you probably wrote it, you would have been around fifteen, maybe?
Ashley: Oh, probably.
Sarah: Because I’m pretty sure it was in an early iteration of When the Rain Falls. Well, it’s now called When the Rain Falls. It used to be called Desolate, just so people know. Big ideas again.
Ashley: Okay, um, this one unsurprisingly rhymes again. It is called War. We’ve said before that our teen fiction series is like a war. It’s about war, so. Fitting title, I think. Alright.
War starts off as a simple game
Firing guns and roaring flames
As innocent as it may seem
War digs holes in your seams
It spills out fury from your heart
It tears you and friends apart
You become as bad as them
Murdering, vicious, vile men
Memories of the things you’ve seen
Take cruel forms in your dreams
Friends no longer seem the same
Players in this violent game
Soldiers hearts as cold as ice
Play the earth like Yahtzee dice
Death engulfs this solemn world
Happiness has long been swirled
War is never a simple game
In the end, no one is left to blame.
Ashley: It gets very dark at the end.
Sarah: Well, interestingly, I think we took off those last four lines when we had it included in the book. Because in my very old version of our book, it doesn’t have those last four lines. So I was a bit surprised when I like read through it.
Ashley: You’re like, oh it keeps going.
Sarah: I was like, oh! There’s another end to this. Because it just ended play the earth like Yahtzee dice.
Ashley: Ah. Either we cut the lines, or added lines at some point, I don’t know. I like the… I kind of liked the ending, it sort of links with the beginning. It’s an attempt at a full circle kind of thing going on.
Ashley: An attempt was made. I, I remember it used to be ‘play the earth like a poker dice’ but then I realized you don’t use dice in poker, and so then I had to change it, because it didn’t make sense.
Sarah: That’s funny.
Ashley: Um, and then I couldn’t think of another line, so I just had to deal with it. So even to this day, I don’t like that line because I know it was meant to be something else.
Sarah: I quite like it! I’m like, that’s so creative.
Ashley: It’s meant to be something else that sounded better, but wasn’t actually a thing. I dunno, I find this poem cringey, but I also… it reminds me of our first book, so it has like a, you know, I have a soft spot for it.
Sarah: I quite like it, I would say I probably have a soft spot for this poem too.
Ashley: I don’t know what it is about it.
Sarah: It’s quite cute, even though it’s a poem about war.
Ashley: I think it encompasses, maybe it encompasses Grace quite well, maybe that’s what it is.
Sarah: Yeah, it probably does actually.
Ashley: Because it was, like technically it was her that wrote it, not me, just so everyone is clear. She’s a teenager, so.
Sarah: You become as bad as them, murdering vicious vile men.
Ashley: It’s accurate, like when you think about what happens in those books.
Sarah: Yeah, it is true.
Ashley: For everyone involved. And then even the next bit, the memories of the things you’ve seen, take cruel forms in your dreams.
Sarah: Yes. It is very Grace.
Ashley: We hadn’t even planned out the rest of the books, I don’t think at the time of writing this poem. Like, she had no idea what was in store for her.
Sarah: I feel like it was meant to be.
Ashley: I know. It’s pre-written, she wrote in her poem, it was her destiny.
Sarah: Maybe that’s why we feel very attached to this poem because it’s kind of, what do you call it?
Sarah: Yes, that’s the one. It’s like a glimpse into the future.
Ashley: Even the ‘friends no longer seem the same, players in this violent game’.
Sarah: Yes, exactly.
Ashley: Oh, so good. Do we need to move on, or?
Sarah: Yeah, we’ll do, we’ll do one more each and just try and like, keep it short on the analyzing side.
Ashley: Yeah. There won’t be a lot to analyze my next anyways. I guess we’re up to you, shall you read your next one?
Sarah: Um. Yeah, okay, I will do this one. I was like, should I do it? Okay, so for the last one, it’s one that I wrote again when I was quite young. I think probably about sixteen, this one. And, as I say, I used to be quite religious, like I still believe in God, but you know, I guess you grow a bit older and you learn to accept and learn from other cultures as well. So, but the the next poem is quite Christian orientated, but I do still quite like it just because I think the language in it is quite interesting. So anyways, it’s called To God will all Glory be.
Glory be to God for the world we live within
Thatched fields of green-yellow straw
Grey-blue sky sleeping over goldfish that swim
And the pearly shells scattering the sandy shore
For the freshness that reigns in the land so crisp
The buzzing and bumbling of black-yellow bees
Moon awakening with eyes wide and great
Flowers singing in splendor; so free, so free
Dappled shadows dancing daintily on a night so late
To God will all glory be.
Sarah: Just a short little one.
Ashley: I like the imagery in that poem.
Sarah: Yeah, I think is quite good imagery.
Ashley: I really like ‘the buzzing and bumbling of black-yellow bees’, all the ‘B’ sounds. I’m a fan.
Sarah: Yeah, it uses a lot of alliteration in that poem which, I think makes it sound quite interesting.
Ashley: Yeah, it reads reading out loud, I think, sound even better than just reading it through.
Sarah: It sort of rolls off the tongue quite easily. But yeah.
Ashley: I like it. I like that one.
Sarah: So that was just another little one.
Ashley: I like that one.
Sarah: So, how was your next one?
Ashley: Okay, so I’ll give you a little, a preface. So I wrote this poem, I’m going to say two years ago, maybe three years ago. So, I’m a girl guide leader, I’ve probably mentioned this on the podcast maybe before. And we like to get a lot of guests in to our girl guide unit, and one day I was talking with my coleader and we decided that hey, wouldn’t it be cool if Jacinda Adern came to our ranger unit. Like I bet no other ranger unit has ever had the current Prime Minister come to their ranger unit before. So we emailed her, and she was like, sure. And we’re like oh my God, what are we going to do, like we have to do something. And because Wendy and I—my coleader, hi Wendy!—because we’re weird, I’m going to go with weird, we’re like, what we should do is we should make all of the girls in the unit write a poem about issues that matter to them in New Zealand. And then we’ll give her a ranger poetry book as a gift.
Sarah: Oh, that’s cool.
Ashley: So, we’re doing it, then our girls are like, if you’re making us write poems you also have to write a poem. And immediately I was like, oh no. Here we go. So this is my poem that I wrote, and yeah. It’s about an issue, to start with, and it’s a little embarrassing because I gave it to the Prime Minister so, but it’s fine. I think it’s… it’s not great.
Sarah: Sorry. That’s amazing.
Ashley: But I just imagine the Prime Minister has this book of ranger poems in her office, and this is one of them. It’s called, Lead the Way. Here we go.
Imagine a world where our country leads the way
In technology and innovation, what would you say?
We led the world in equality, giving women the right to vote
A hundred and twenty-five years seems not that long ago
But now we face a question
A choice for us all to make
Where can women take us in the future
And what difference can we make?
We have more choice than ever, a world open at our feet
The places we can go and the people we may meet
We need a country where our women lead the way
In technology and innovation, equally, I’d say.
Ashley: There we go.
Sarah: That’s actually really cool. I like it.
Ashley: I’m glad you like it. It’s like, my weird cringey kind of rhyme-y thing, but its…
Sarah: It’s quite empowering, though.
Ashley: I, yeah. I think I’ve used it okay. My favorite line that I was really proud of was the ‘equally, I’d say’ at the at the end. I was very proud of that. So, yes I’ll leave you with that one. I really, you know, ah one that I’ve written recently.
Sarah: It’s very appropriate considering that a few days ago, it was International Women’s Day, so.
Ashley: That’s true, that’s true.
Sarah: Yeah. That’s quite a good one to end on, I think.
Ashley: An empowering… well. Kind of empowering. Hopefully Jacinda Adern found it empowering if she even read it.
Sarah: I’m sure she would have, she seems to be like quite cool about those kind of things. Anyway, hi Jacinda Adern, you’ll probably never listened to this podcast but, there’s your poem.
Ashley: There’s a poem, I wrote it specifically for you. And now I’ve shared it with the world. Shall we move on to our mistakes of the month?
Ashley: Alright, have you got any to share this week, Sarah?
Sarah: You know, I had a couple but they were pretty boring, and they’re just like general mistakes, like a missed word, etcetera. But then Ashley sent me a couple of photos of our old chapter plans. Because as we’ve kind of explained before on the podcast we typically will write the chapter plans, divvy them out, and that’s how we collaborate together. We’ve been doing this, since we were like fourteen, and I have not seen any of our chapter plans from that long ago until she sent me some photos and oh my goodness, I do not know how we managed to get anything written. Because they make no sense whatsoever. And I thought, instead of doing… for mistakes of the month, I might read out a couple of these chapter plans.
Ashley: Oh my gosh, yes.
Sarah: Because they are just amazing. Okie dokie. So I’m going to start with this one, I believe it’s in potentially our third book. Third? Or maybe… yes, third.
Ashley: It’s hard to tell sometimes. Because they’re so…
Sarah: So weird, you’ll see very shortly. But it’s Chapter 22 from Grace’s perspective, and I can tell you all of this, because that none of it is in the book at all. I have no memory of this. So it starts off at the top of the page and it says “back in time.”
Ashley: Already, what?
Sarah: The first bullet point is, Grace gets Lizzie out. Presumably, from a trunk because the next piece is, fish through the trunk with bodies. Find key. They’re still alive. Lizzie comes out. Next bullet point, “hey, those are my clothes.” Next bullet point, sees the disguise. Next bullet point, hide in bathroom. Talk. Lizzie is traumatized. Hear people at the door. It’s Levi and Dylan. And that’s the whole chapter plan.
Ashley: I don’t know what it means, or what is happening.
Sarah: I summarized it, and I figured that Lizzie was trapped in the trunk of like some vehicle. Um, then Grace goes to get Lizzie out, but she has to fish through the trunk weirdly? With some bodies—well, it says bodies, but they’re actually nearly dead people, because they’re still alive. Lizzie comes out, gets annoyed because she sees Grace or someone else, I don’t know, who’s wearing her clothes. But it’s okay, because it’s actually just a disguise, and then they hide in the bathroom for some unknown reason. Lizzie’s traumatized, it’s unclear whether that’s because of the trunk.
Ashley: Or, she says—
Sarah: Or whether from the clothes and the disguise, who knows.
Ashley: Oh my God, I can’t…
Sarah: And then Levi and Dylan come.
Ashley: I have so many questions. How do they… where is the trunk? And why is there a bathroom nearby, is my first question.
Sarah: I don’t know.
Ashley: I don’t know why, out of this thing this is the problem I’m having, if it’s a car trunk, how are they now in the bathroom? I don’t understand.
Sarah: I have no idea.
Ashley: And the very first comment of being free is, “hey, those are my clothes.”
Sarah: And, okay, there’s lots of them, but I’m just gonna do one more. And this one is in the second book. Again, no longer in it, you may see why very shortly. And it’s Chapter 9, and it’s from Levi’s perspective. So: Sitting in a room. Asks who killed Jess. Caryl blames it on Grace. Grace gets really mad, storms off. Grace goes down to the basement, Levi follows. Feels her change. Sees her eyes. Grace yells at him, and he says he thinks she did it. Grace gets chainsaw. What is she doing? Something she needs to take care of. Goes upstairs. Stands in front of group. Starts chainsaw. Asks Caryl if she did it. Caryl makes a confession. Grace plunges chainsaw into her.
Ashley: Oh my God. What—?
Sarah: That one’s so amazing.
Ashley: Sees change.
Ashley: Oh, my gosh. Also, why would Levi think that Grace murdered Jess? Like, come on Levi. Come on.
Sarah: He’s so quick to turn traitor.
Ashley: You’ve known her this long, is she really gonna kill Jess? And you guys probably don’t know the way Jess is killed in the book that we removed, and it’s no longer in there, because it frankly was weird.
Sarah: Oh yeah, it was quite graphic. You can imagine like, with chainsaws being in the book… we were very dramatic.
Ashley: Yeah, I think it involved a drain.
Sarah: Yeah, I think she—I’m not even gonna say it, because it’s a bit disturbing.
Ashley: No. It’s really disturbing, but we removed it for good reason. So the fact that Levi could really think that Grace could kill her and do that…
Sarah: That would be horrible.
Ashley: I know, for some reason that’s right taken from this. Levi is better than that, we should have known that back then. He is better than that. Like yeah he’s a bit of an idiot…
Sarah: If I was Grace, I’d probably never forgive him for that.
Ashley: I know, like, yo? Why did you think I did that.
Sarah: Then she plunges the chainsaw into Caryl.
Ashley: Yeah, and then, and then, her eyes change. There’s something I need to take care of. Chainsaw.
Sarah: What is she doing? There’s something I need to take care of. That was the best part. Oh my goodness. So those were our old chapter plans. It explains why the book was so crazy.
Ashley: I don’t know how we wrote things.
Sarah and Ashley: If that’s what we had to work with.
Sarah: No wonder it was so insane. Very different now, very different, so.
Ashley: Def—yes, they’re are a lot more, um.
Ashley: One, thought out. And two, have direction. I remember there’s another one that you haven’t read out but it’s literally three lines, and I think they are: Comes out of forest.
Sarah: Crawls out of forest actually.
Ashley: Crawls out of forest, crawls out of forest.
Sarah: I was like, why is he crawling?
Ashley: Real dramatic, real dramatic. Then I think it said like, go to beehive.
Sarah: Yeah. Which, just so everyone’s aware that that’s the government building in New Zealand so it’s not like a strange beehive in the forest.
Ashley: And then it’s like, manages to get in, sees friend. The end. What friend?
Sarah: Well, even better was in they clearly decided to have Christmas at some point. And then there was like a list of things that they could potentially get people.
Ashley: Oh yeah.
Sarah: And the lists were so random. Like, someone was going to get a violin.
Ashley: It’s like war, and they’re trying to be quiet. I don’t understand.
Sarah: Or Dylan was going to get…
Ashley: There was a soccer ball on there!
Sarah: Dylan was going to get Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice specifically. Levi meanwhile. Levi, meanwhile, was going to get a stuffed bird, which I think was reference to something that happened earlier, but then, milk and cookies.
Ashley: Which I had forgotten.
Sarah: Because that he was Santa. So amazing.
Ashley: Such crap presents.
Sarah: It’s just… I don’t even… it blows my mind how strange it all is. It’s like this weird spoof. Like, we should just publish it all as a spoof version of the book.
Ashley: We should. I was going to say, the one where we’re trying to decide what happens to Caryl and then one of the options just said “Caryl just disappears.” Like, did she vanish?
Sarah: Yeah, like we ran out of ideas so Carly just disappears. We’re like, what should we do with her, this m—she was a murderer. She was one who killed Jess.
Ashley: Just disappears, I’m like, cool. Did she vanish? I dunno. So amazing.
Sarah: So amazing. Anyways, should we move on to your mistakes of the month?
Ashley: Sure, so my mistakes of the month are more normal. They’re out of um, the couple chapters that I’ve been writing recently. Definitely not as crazy as those chapter plans, but hopefully you’ll be able to get a bit of a laugh out of them, regardless. So the first one is ‘Helene looked outranged’ instead of outraged.
Ashley: Outranged. It’s like deranged but not.
Sarah: She’s just out of range, she’s looking out of range. I don’t understand how you can quite see out of range, if it’s out of range, but she’s looking there.
Ashley: Yeah. It’s like when people stare into the middle distance but she’s—
Sarah: —Oh that so, that annoys me so much. The middle distance. I did not know that was a thing until I read about it in Benjamin Dreyer’s book of… Dreyer’s English. And he’s like, what is with all the staring into the middle distance? And I was like, yeah, what’s with that? Turns out that it’s actually thing staring out the middle distance, and I was like, but why can’t they just stare into the distance, why do you need to have the middle distance? I don’t know. I apologize for the people who are out there who do like to have their characters staring into the middle distance, but I just feel middle is unnecessary, but anyways let’s just continue on, sorry, I have a real issue with that.
Ashley: That’s fine. I don’t think we’ve done that.
Ashley: We’ve had stared, probably stared into the distance.
Sarah: Oh, yeah.
Ashley: But I never would have thought to put middle distance, that kind of is weird. I don’t know. It would wreck our flow, I think. Right, so the next one is: ‘“Protect me?” Helene said breathlessly, wiping the tears furiously from my eyes,’ instead of her eyes.
Sarah: “Protect me” and then she’s like wiping the tears away from who she’s talking to.
Ashley: And he’s like um, okay, thanks. That’s weird. Okay, so for this next one I’m just going to change the name of one of the characters, I’m going to call them Mr X, because I don’t want it to give away some of the story, so we’re going to call them Mr X. ‘A fresh breeze had picked up and the red ribbons dangling from Mr X’s crown fluttered in the wind. He ran a hand through his hair, and took a hesitant step forward.’ So Mr X actually dead in the scene. And it definitely sounds like he’s the one who’s getting up, or who runs a hand through his hair and takes a hesitant step forward, but it’s actually the character who’s looking at it, so I definitely changed that. I read it and I was like, ah, the dead rise.
Sarah: That’s amazing. Just have the person randomly come back to life.
Sarah: It’s very horror-esque. Especially with like a crown, with like things fluttering in the wind.
Ashley: Yeah, with red ribbons. And my last one is, But Leontiades was older now, he had lived in relative peace for almost ten tears’. Instead of years.
Sarah: Ten tears?
Ashley: Ten tears. He cried ten tears, and that’s how long the peace had lasted.
Sarah: And there was the end of the peace. Oh dear.
Ashley: Anyway, so any of you have mistakes of the month that you want to share with us, please send them in we’d love to hear them. I think it’s a really good exercise having a bit of a laugh, because everyone makes mistakes and sometimes they’re actually amazing.
Sarah: Yes. Next time on Dear Writer, what are we talking about?
Ashley: Right so next time it’s our next culturing creativity episode, and we’re going to be having a bit of a discussion about freefall writing, which should be quite fun. Something I’ve never really done before.
Sarah: Yeah. I think it’s going to be very interesting.
Ashley: Yeah, see how that turns out.
Sarah: I did want to say, as well is that, there are still some spots left on our author spotlight section, and so you can apply to that by going to our website at www.lindersoncreations.com, and if you hover your mouse over the podcast tab, and it should bring up the be featured on Dear Writer, and it has a little form for you to fill out. We just really enjoy these interviews and yeah. So if you want to come and chat to us, we would love to have you on.
Sarah: You can even listen to some of the previous interviews that we’ve done, just talking about people’s books and things, and it’s really interesting and really, really fun.
Ashley: It definitely is.
Sarah: So I would encourage you to apply.
Ashley: Yes, come chat to us, we’d like to chat to you. So anyways, if you’d like to know more about us and our writing projects, you can visit us on lindersoncreations.com, or you can check us out on Facebook or Instagram which is also under lindersoncreations.
Sarah: And so, if you enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on your podcatcher of choice and we will be back next week.
Ashley: Happy writing, everyone.