John Simmons asks (and answers) about his own 50 words for 26:50
My fifty words in the 26:50 project appeared on 4th March. Fifty words on the Indonesian writer Mochtar Lubis. Strangely exciting to see the words appear and be read by...who knows who? Perhaps a prisoner? Perhaps a jailer? I hope by other writers.
I found the process of getting my fifty words a creative challenge. That's not a euphemism for 'a problem'. I mean stimulating, interesting, genuinely helpful - the need to get exactly fifty words, not a word more nor less. It forces you to think hard about each word, about structure (I hadn't expected that) and about the power of imagery.
The key to it for me was prompted by Lubis' description of Indonesian history being seen through European eyes and culture. So I needed to emphasise his Indonesian difference. Ironically I found the way in to this by doing what Lubis comments on - using my own European culture, in particular the classical myth of the dragon's teeth.
From that thought it was a small shift to an Indonesian dragon. The Indonesian or Komodo dragon is almost mythical but if you met one all too frighteningly real. You really don't want to cross it. It's not nature's most beautiful creature, but fierce, aggressive, proud, not to be pushed around.
The dragon image released the words of the poem. It was then a matter of crafting the words into the right number. Editing can be an exquisitely enjoyable process; this was. I hope the fifty words are in the spirit of Mochtar Lubis, a brave writer who would not wish to waste a word. His prison experiences showed just how powerful and precious words can be. I'll write more about this next week on www.26fruits.co.uk/blog
I'd be fascinated to hear from others who have written or are writing fifty words for the 26:50 project. How did your fifty words come about? Thanks to Rob Self-Pierson for setting down his thoughts. More please.