It happens every year. I get an idea, and I run with it–a parody to celebrate the coming of NaNoWriMo–the national novel writing month. This is when crazies like me decide to write 50,000 words in 30 days–during the Thanksgiving holidays, no less.
Now really, for me, that’s not a lot of words. So while many people have the luxury of writing 1,667 words and being done for the day, I keep up my usual writing schedule and add 1,667 words. (Except, as I shared in THIS post, I actually try to write a lot more than that!)
In the past I’ve done:
It seems like there should be more, but those were the ones I found.
This year, I decided my parody would be “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I even wrote a good portion of it. But overdue deadlines meant I couldn’t finish. Next year.
I tried to switch it up. “O Captain! My Captain!” Yeah. It fell flat. “Charge of the Light Brigade.” It fled on those horses. Didn’t even get 600 words out of that before I quit. “The Road not Taken” didn’t get taken, either. I should have known better than to try Frost. I mean, c’mon. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall?” Just sayin’.
Utterly disgusted with myself, I came up with this year’s parody. My apologies to Joyce Kilmer. I also thought I’d share how I butcher these things in case you ever want to utterly destroy someone’s favorite poem as a gift to them someday.
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The Best Formula for Destroying Beloved Poetry in 3 Easy Steps
- Find a poem you could recite in your sleep. For this exercise, I chose “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. My parents made me memorize it when I was eleven, so I often use it as a formula for my quick and dirty parodies. I would have done “Face on the Barroom Floor,” But not many people know that one.
- Go line by line and retype each with words that fit your parody’s mood. Sarcastic, syrupy sweet, ironic–whatever. Feel free to improvise and not do a great job. After all, you’re butchering it, right? That’s kind of the point?
- When you’re done, read it aloud. I suspect you’ll need to change a few things.
Bonus tip: If you can’t get a verse after a reasonable amount of time, just quit and find a new poem. If all else fails, use “Trees.” It really does lend itself to parody. I really don’t know why.
I think that I shall never write
A parody worth beans tonight.
A parody to make us smile
And spur writing after awhile.
A joke to prompt the words to come
And make us write of heart and home.
A line or two to pass the time
Till NaNo comes with words sublime.
One to make us write a score
To make us try again for more!
Until our story takes off with glee
To imprint on the carcass of a tree.
Of poems and lyrics there are a ton
Written by ‘most anyone.
But fifty thousand words or more
In thirty days? It is a chore!
Written words we ne’er delete—
For writing them it was a feat!
We’ll set aside till the month is done
And our NaNo we have won.
We’ll dress it up and make it glow
But not until the month’s gone, you know
Poems are made by men with ease
But the best I do is butcher “Trees.”
What am I writing for NaNoWriMo this year?
Glad you asked, friend. Glad you asked. So this year I’m teaching a class–Supercharging Your Writing with NaNoWriMo. And we’ve been having a lot of fun. We’ve gone over character, setting, and questions. We’ve also created scene lists so we’re ready to go.
I am using the “royal” we here, because I have done diddly and squat due to an overdue novel collection assignment. I’m about to go do it in a minute.
As many of you know, I use NaNo to write what I want to write for the year. I also use it to challenge myself. Well, this year, I challenged myself by giving the job of deciding what I’d write to the CLASS MEMBERS! That’s right! They decided. And they had a ton of ideas!
- Vannie’s “after high school” story.
- Grace’s “before” Noble Pursuits story.
- A girl posing as a pony express rider
- Mary, my next “Ballads of the Hearth” book.
I think there were a few more, but since so many of them I already had plotting done for, one gal pointed out that I needed to do the pony express rider. It’s the one I had no plans for at all!
So… here we go! That’s what I’m doing! I’ve named it: The Trouble with Nancy
(Note: VERY bad synopsis ahead:)
The Harrisons are in a fix. If they don’t come up with a hundred fifty dollars in sixty days, they could lose their house! So, Lewis Harrison does the only thing any good son would do in 1861. He joins the Pony Express.
But when masked goons rough him up and break his leg, Lewis can’t go. Determined not to let her family down, his sister, Nancy, decides to disguise herself and take his place. The problem? Well, she’s not much of a horsewoman, and she certainly has never ridden astride.
Lewis insists she can’t do the job. Nancy doesn’t see that she has any choice.
But the disguise was the easy part. Riding hurts! But at least no one seems to mind that she has to crawl from horse to horse and be helped up onto the next. No one seems to care that she’s almost three days late.
Things get complicated when Nancy realizes she’s not employed by the Pony Express, and what she’s doing is probably illegal.
Can’t she just go back home to balls, teas, and the hope of a suitor before her twentieth birthday?
Root for me! I’m gonna need it!
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo?