If I am ever worried about showing vs telling in my own work, I tend to look at the situation from the perspective of the reader. A reader told something will go away knowing it. A reader shown something will go away having interpreted it and worked it out for themselves.
Always keep an eye open for advice from pre-eminent writers like David Mitchell. They often have hit on ideas, devices and techniques that helped them get from an initial thought to an acclaimed book. By tapping into their ingenuity, you can only further your own writing.
I hope this discussion inspires you to think more deeply about how you could write about particular landscapes (or waterscapes) and stimulates you to research a really interesting contemporary writer and her ideas about poetry and places.
It’s not surprising that writers often bring food into their stories and poems: the way that a character relates to food can be a shorthand for letting the reader know something significant about their personality or their relationships.
In the end, it’s not just about flowers.
In 2012, it was relaunched by Penguin, with a similar but specific mission; to publish reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s plays in the modern novel form. Some of the most acclaimed and popular novelists of our time have been commissioned to write for the project and so far, six have delivered – Jeanette Winterson, Howard Jacobson, Tracy Chevalier, Edward St Aubyn, Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood.
All of which leads me to conclude that the artistic art is a desire to make real the imaginary. And so by necessity employing as wide a range of mediums as possible takes us closer to that elusive goal.
Eco-poetry, then, in the sense I’m talking about, takes the human and the natural world as undeniably connected and does not prioritise one over the other. The human and natural worlds are not exclusive of one another, and the natural is not something to be ‘conquered.’ Eco-poetry does not centre on a human viewpoint; it is inclusive of plant, animal, landscape. It can make us look at the experiences of the life we share the planet with in a completely new way.
Content-wise flash fiction, however short, will have a narrative arc while flash poetry will catch a moment with maybe implied narrative. In fact, flash poetry will have more in common with a photograph than with a piece of prose.
Airports stock a lot of books for holiday reading, and if you’re aiming at a popular market in it’s a good idea to take a good hard look at what’s on sale. Crime and romance come top, but these days they all have strap-lines that sound exactly the same.
So your tutors are giving you good feedback, and you’re happy with what you’re writing, but what’s the next stage in sharing that with…
One of the reasons I read literature in translation is to extend my sense of the possible – to get a sense of what English-language writing might be missing.