Stealing from Mary Oliver, pt. 2

The assignment, you will recall, is for me to STEAL FROM THE BEST by analyzing Mary Oliver's essay "The Ponds" from her beautiful book Upstream and to write my own essay about my labyrinth.

This is hard, you guys.  I am an extremely facile writer.  I can whip out a blog post of 800 words or more in no time, and do so seven or eight times a week.  I'm a writing machine.

But slowly copying out the essay, and then analyzing the sentence structure, the purpose of each paragraph, the use of metaphor and language: that's a very hard thing to do.  It takes a l-o-o-o-n-g time.

And that's the point, isn't it?  Slow down and eat the flowers.


Here you see an hour's worth of copying and writing.  What a tangle!

But as I copy, I begin to understand how she's assembled this essay from seemingly random lumps of observations.  Even though I don't have the wild and intricate landscape she does as my subject, I can still cobble together disparate settings/times into a lovely coherent piece.

So what have I accomplished?  Not as much as I thought—my belief in my facility and speed as a writer is a bit shaken—but I think I do have a grip on where to go next.

In other words, a perfectly cromulent ABORTIVE ATTEMPT.


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