When I’m between novels like I am now, I always write poetry. Usually, I try the hard forms. Not because I’m so good at the so-called easier ones (free verse, for instance) but because my free verse is so close to my prose that sometimes I can barely tell the difference.
Really odd forms like the ghazal are always attractive, but I wrote a whole book of ghazals (INDIGO) and of course it sold in the dozens. By trying rare forms I’m usually avoiding the sonnet. It’s such a bear, partly because anybody can write a bad one. Dahdum, bahdum, dahdum, bahdum, baddum: full rhyme. Do that 13 more times and then you can show your mommy and she’ll put it on the fridge.
But a good sonnet is a real challenge. I tend to look at Shakespeare, of course, and guys I know like Tim Steele. Then I sit down and see if I’ve got the chops.
Usually not. I’m reminded of some guy in his underwear heating soup on a hot plate in a furnished room while watching “Top Chef.”
But I’m never sorry I tried. There’s always a word or an iambic foot or a slant rhyme that, like the porridge, is just right. Then I throw the whole thing away. There’s always tomorrow.
Happy New Year everybody.