Friday, May 16, 2014

Be Honest: Do You Like This Post? Gut Level Truth In Poetry...and in Life

Howdy, Campers!

Note the four exciting announcements at the bottom of this post (including this: today's the last day to enter our current book giveaway.)

Thank you, Elizabeth Steinglass, for hosting Poetry Friday today!

I had a wonderful poetry teacher, Tony Lee, who taught us about voice.

Describing something, as a journalist does, Tony said, is the reporting voice.
  That voice comes from the lips, the mouth, the throat.
Writing about feelings comes from the gut, a lower, truer, sometimes scarier place, he said.  

This is the deep voice.  The deep voice attracts readers.  It connects them to your story.  Be brave, he told us. Find the feelings. Go there.

So why do some blog and FaceBook posts get nine kazillion comments (not mine!) and some get zip?
from FaceBook

12,341,889 likes ~ 58,962 talking about this

Putting aside JoAnn's terrific post about social media and the perfect lengths for poems, posts, headings, etc. in various online media...

it seems to me that getting your work read (or, more to the point, getting your work read and passed on) is about superficial vs. deep.

Just like a book in which the author rips off her shirt and shows us her scars (as Anne Lamott does), FaceBook and blog posts that come from the gut are the ones that resonate.

I was at a meeting the other day; each of us had three minutes to talk about anything we wanted.  The first two minutes and 30 seconds I talked about some success I had had.  In the last 30 seconds, my mouth opened and an embarrassing truth popped out.  I said that Robyn Hood Black had very kindly gifted me homemade granola.  It was especially touching because Robyn knows I can't eat sugar, so she made it with sugar-free maple syrup.  I could actually have it.  Delighted, I sat down for lunch, thinking I'd taste just a spoonful, just to see what it was like.

Good granola is dense, so you don't need much.  And you and I know that you're supposed to eat two cups of granola over a period of several days--with fresh blueberries and your pinky finger raised, right?

Not me... immediately my mouth opened, a vacuum turned on, my brain turned off, and nearly two cups of absolutely delicious granola were gone.  Gone!
This isn't Robyn's granola.
Hers had yummy bits of coconut in it. didn't have time to take a picture of hers.
So this is from
As we went around the room sharing, do you think others in the group commented on the nicely packaged pithy wisdom in my first two minutes and thirty seconds?  Nope.  Nearly ALL of them talked about my granola adventure.  It hit a familiar nerve. We've all been there.

It was no longer was all of ours.  

During Poetry Month this year, I had what I called a metaphoraffair--I practiced finding metaphors, posting one each day, both on my website (where, it turned out, the comment mechanism was broken) and on FaceBook and Twitter.

The metaphor which drew the most interest was my final post for Poetry Month 2014, written with and about my mother, who is 91 and not doing great.  It was hard for me to post; it was true. It was from my gut.

I drew this in November, 2010, after Mom and I walked around a park in Malibu...and suddenly I was the parent
I drew this in November, 2010, after Mom and I walked around a park in Malibu…suddenly I was the parent
The point is, be brave, cut deep beneath the skin, share from the gut, share your humaness. That's all we have.
                                                                             *   *   *   *
LAST CALL! If you haven't entered our current giveaway, it ends today!  To enter, go to Jill Esbaum's post to win your very own autographed copy of Jill's Angry Birds Playground: Rain Forest (National Geographic Books)!

Will you be in New York on May 18th? I'll be speaking on the Children's Books Panel of the Seminar on Jewish Story in New York City on Sunday, May 18th.  Here's my interview the seminar organizer, Barbara Krasner published on her blog.

For an example of a beautifully written post which hits a nerve, read Jama Rattigan's gorgeous and heartfelt Mother's Day post.

And, last but not least, happy Children's Book Week!  Be brave. Go forth and share the very thing that hard to share.

posted with love by April Halprin Wayland...but you knew that, right?


Renee LaTulippe said...

Honestly....I like this post! And I like the quotes from your poetry teacher and the idea of the deep voice. As a big fan of stories about the minutiae of everyday life, your granola story really hit the spot. A wonderful life lesson. Thank you, April!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Renee--WELCOME BACK!--and thanks for stopping by and being honest ~

Jill said...

You are so right, April, about writing from the gut. Wonderful post...

Tabatha said...

It took me a minute to comment because I had to go get myself some granola first! (I make my own -- with maple syrup! Maybe Robyn and I should compare recipes...) Your post about your mom was very poignant, April.

Ann said...

Loved this post ~ a great way to describe voice ~ and I can use the reminder ~ thank you!!!

Robyn Hood Black said...

A nourishing post, April, on many levels! [Hubby Jeff actually made the granola, but I stirred... ;0) ] Thanks for articulating these great thoughts about connecting with readers.

jama said...

Love this post -- the quotes from your writing teacher are fab, and of course now I'm craving granola.

You make interesting points about what "resonates" with readers -- certainly what is true and deeply felt by the writer will transfer to the reader. But, as you said, sometimes it's something totally random and accessible, like granola, that will grab the spotlight away from something "deep."

As for FB, I've concluded that it's often more about popularity than the content of the update. How else to explain an update like "I have no update today" that receives hundreds of likes? (Yes, it's a real update on my feed.)

Thanks for the link love. Hugs to you and your Mom. ♥

Carmela Martino said...

No, I don't "like" this post, April, I LOVE it! Wish I could be at your panel this weekend.
I just read your metaphor for aging. As you know, I can empathize with what you're going through (as my dear father-in-law sits in the kitchen eating his breakfast). Hang in there!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

You teach me with every post you author, April!
Thank you!
I just received an email with this quote beneath the author's name.
It seems appropriate.
"When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
Your Fan Esther

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I wondered why I couldn't reply to your metaphor posts, April--now I know! I also recognize the universal appeal of your granola comment. Thanks for the reminder about honesty! xox

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear All--including Jill, Tabatha, Ann, Robyn, Jama, Carmela, Esther and JoAnn ~

I so appreciate your comments. I'm still not sure how people have the time to write and also read other people's blogs. Still figuring it out.

Mom is on hospice now (though death is not imminent) and hospice is working miracles. Seriously. I love hospice. I want to marry hospice.


Liz Steinglass said...

Thank you! This is exactly what I need to be thinking about.

Margaret Simon said...

I love the voice in this post, so real and true. I feel it's about connecting with the author. When an author writes from the gut, we can connect with our hearts. We relate and we want to comment from that place of relationship.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Liz and Margaret ~ Isn't it true that we give others the advice we most need to hear ourselves?

I needed to write this because I needed to hear it too...

GatheringBooks said...

Hello there April. This is what I loved best of all from your post:
"The point is, be brave, cut deep beneath the skin, share from the gut, share your humaness. That's all we have."
Such courageous souls - writers and poets. :) And yes, Loved this post!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Myra,
That's actually my favorite line, too...
it's why I like aging. It's when we figure out that Honesty is not one of the important things: it's the ONLY thing.


Amy Gibson said...


April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Amy!