Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Poetry Response Unit

I spent much of yesterday killing my darlings -- editing out some of my favorite jokes. It's not that you're supposed to cut the stuff you like from a book, but rather that you're supposed to be willing to cut good stuff that doesn't belong. In this case, some really clever jokes turned out to be the kinds of things the character wouldn't really say, or they involved a lot of interior monologue to set up a clever thought that led to a line, and that broke up the rhythm of the dialogue. I'm trying for the snappy banter of the screwball comedy, and you can't do that with whole paragraphs of thought in between. Or the witty joke was me showing off my research or explaining too much. So it had to go. And once I cut those things, the relationship and the conflict between the characters became so much clearer.

Meanwhile, I've also been reading some Jung. I figured that since a lot of the things I use in writing, including archetypes, the hero's journey and personality types, are based on the works of Jung, I ought to go to the source. I found a library book that compiles extracts from the essential works, with commentary. There's a lot of stuff about dreams and what the elements of a dream might represent, and that's made me conscious of my dreams. Last night, I had one that would stump Jung. I dreamed I was walking past my city fire department's array of specialty unit trucks. There was the MICU (the fire department ambulance), the hazardous material unit, the bomb squad, etc. And then there was the truck with "Poetry Response Unit" printed on the side. I wondered if that was to respond to the aftermath of dangerous poetry, like in the case of a Vogon invasion (yes, I was thinking about Vogon poetry in my dreams) or if it was to soothe people who'd been through a trauma by using poetry to lift their spirits.

I suspect this was in part triggered by yesterday's wreck at the intersection behind my house. There was the usual "screech, whack" sound, and I went upstairs to look outside, but during the summer, I can't see the intersection from my office balcony because the crepe myrtles on the corner are in bloom. I did notice that the fire department got there within three minutes. I also noticed that the church across the street had sent someone out. Their office windows overlook that intersection, and they're good about getting out there with water or blankets whenever there's a wreck, and as fast as the fire department responds, the church is faster. Wrecks are frequent enough there that I wonder if they have a wreck response ministry. I can't figure out why wrecks are so common there. There's a traffic light, with left-turn signals in all directions. It's on flat ground on a straightaway, with good visibility from all angles. I go through that intersection almost every time I come and go from my house in my car, and I've never had a near-miss or scare there. And yet at least once a week there's a major wreck there. So, anyway, maybe my subconscious tied together my notice of the fire department unit response time and the way the people from the church show up to help and created the Poetry Response Unit. There may be a story in there somewhere.

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