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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Syncopated rhyme, words in time...Part 2 B and C

I spoke a little bit about permission, partially as it was a big part of this and perhaps any worthy, work-in-progress' process. Am I qualified to tell the tale?

In Ann's case: I wasn't African-American, and I didn't grow up during the depression, nor in Old Orchard Beach.

On the other hand, like Hillel the Elder, "If not me, then who?" I knew and loved Ann. I know and love Old Orchard Beach. Music, check, illustration, check, words, check.... Two events happened that gave me heart to embrace this project and fully move on. First, I was working at L.L. Bean and in reminiscing about Ann with a coworker who knew here, found out she'd died a few days before. I become immensely, omygoodness sick. Looking back I probably should have gone to the hospital. But literally, in that fevered, mostly sleeping, half estate, came the first line and the push to do it.

The second, I was flagging, doing the research, finding out what sandy ground I stood on in literary, historical and I felt creative terms, and Ann was no longer around for me to talk to, let alone visit. In talking with someone who knew Ann, the place and the time, when she said to me. "Oh my! You know way more than I do about this!" a few times, I thought perhaps I was in a far better position than I'd originally thought. So IF you have something to say (especially to kids), give yourself permission. And then make it as fun as you can.

the only photo reference of Ann as a child (with her brother Eddie)

Drawing of Ann for the cover. Not decided, I'm keeping this?

Once I'd determined what the basic tempos/structure of my book was. I broke it all down into cadence/beats/stresses and syllables. Often times I'd have to brainstorm around the idea of a word (break out the THESAURUS!).  Knowing the flow of the events and story, I began to brainstorm verbs.  In picture books, adjectives are mostly (or should be, illustrations remember) superflous. The nice thing is, often verbs are far more effective short and sweet. Though with picture books throwing in a few colorful words is a wonderful thing, not only because children like the sophistication of words, but it encourages interaction with the adult. The fine line comes from whether the word is too sibylline, the difference between strenuous and sublime, if you get my drift. 

So the first version of the stanzas:

Snap towel, whip sheet!
"Quit it Eddie! Make it Neat!"
Hardly time for any fun,
Chores to do, just begun.
Maude chides Eddie
No ponies for wishes.
Riding off now, Gotta wipe the dishes!

Loved this, it reads well. And the illustrations help it out quite a bit. But would other people know what this mean (and btw, chide was one of my sublime words, if you're going to work in words, it might as well be the ones YOU'RE in love with).

There was a saying I used to love (and hear a lot from the older people in my life, and had heard it a few times more from on oldster in my life the very week I was working on this section of the book) "If wishes were horses, we'd all get a ride!" Beyond loving this saying, it really was one of the things I think about Ann, because she was an artist, and perhaps a dreamer, but she was much more of a doer than anything else, so it was more than appropriate for a story about her. But the above was clear as mud, and if adults didn't get the reference, it would be a complete muddle for kids.

so version two:

Whip towel, snap sheet!"
"Quit it Eddie, make it neat!"
Hardly time for any fun
Chores to do, we've just begun.
Maud says, "Pride should be our best guide!
Wishes aren't horses or we'd all get a ride!"
Maud chides Eddie, no rides for wishes,
Annie's galloping off now, gotta wipe the dishes!

Too long, now. The start to me is better. But there's redundancy and the beat is off. Hopefully third times' the charm (rhymes with harm, and arm and alarm, wait make sure that's not a near rhyme and it added a beat and the stress is now off, sheesh).... what I've settled on so far:

Snap towel, whip sheet,
"Quit it Eddie, make it neat!"
Hardly time for any fun, 
Chores to do, we've just begun.
Eddie wants to play, Eddie wants to go,
Mayhap sneak later into that musical show.
"If wishers were horses we'd all get a ride!"
Maude chides Eddie "Take some pride!
Do the job, mind your finishes!"
Gallop off now, Annie's got to wipe the dishes!

Longer yes, but reworked it includes a beat set up in other places. It also sets up a dynamic for later in the book, so the longer no longer bothers as there's a purpose. Even the slight redundancy about what Eddie wants is okay with me, because it has an emotional feel to me, a child's reluctance at rote, duties, mundane especially on a bright sunshin-y Duke Day!

illustration in progress...