Dina Friedman's Monthly Writing Advice

Vol. 2 # 2, August 2002 - ACCESSIBLE POETRY

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* This Month's Tip: Accessible Poetry
* Bob Burg's "Winning Without Intimidation"
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* IMPORTANT Administrative Note
* Subscriber Discounts on Shel's Books
* About This Tipsheet (with sub/unsub/archive info)


THIS MONTH'S TIP: Accessible Poetry

Dear Dina,

I am fifteen years old and I have been writing poetry since I was eight. I think my images are very good, but often people tell me they can't understand the meanings of my poems. What can I do to make my poetry more accessible to people?


Dear Confused,

I had the same problem in college, and my teacher merely said, "No one understands John Ashbery either." That didn't help much, because we write to be understood on some level. Even if we don't want to give the particulars of the situation that caused the poem, we write to convey a sentiment that we hope others will experience.

What I find helpful, therefore, is to ask your readers what they got out of your poem. Don't put them on the spot, by making them feel like they're in English class, but ask them instead to give you an honest accounting of their experience as they read your words. Rather than asking them what they think you mean, ask them the feelings they encounter when the read a particular line, and if they're confused have them state exactly what places in the poem confuse them and why.

Readers, as well as writers, each bring their own experience to a poem. But if you find that several readers get stuck in the same place, and that your poem is conveying a message that is very different from what you intended, that truly may be a place to rethink your intent.

Good luck,

By Shel Horowitz (Dina's husband and business partner)

Instead of the usual "Free Stuff for You, Dear Reader" section this month, I want to tell you about a guy who has done more to improve my attitude than just about anybody.

His name is Bob Burg and I've never met him, but I've been subscribing to his newsletter, "Winning Without Intimidation," for maybe a year and a half.

Here's the basic premise: when you're in a situation where you aren't getting your needs met, find the best way to de-escalate potential conflict AND get the results you want? Every week, Bob provides another real-life example of how he does this (or how his readers do it).

A lot of times, now, when I'm in a situation where things could get heated, I take a deep breath and a step back and say to myself, "How would Bob handle this?" And guess what--not all the time but a lot of the time, I'm able to access that smarter part of my brain that can figure out what Bob would do, defuse the conflict, and achieve my goal. I just used this the other day, to resolve a situation that was building my frustration level on one of the lists I'm on. I wrote a polite note asking the two offenders, as a personal favor, to change their behavior. The response from both was extremely positive.

Here's a little taste of Bob--one article from a recent issue of his newsletter, reprinted with his permission.

A Lesson from Justin
By Bob Burg

A subscriber from South Africa, author ("Create Your Self") and talk show host, Justin Cohen, wrote to share with us a recent personal story of WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION. Here it is in his own words:

"Bob, just wanted to tell you about a win that I had utilizing WWI principles. I recently bought an apartment. I later discovered the geyser (South African term for the hot water system) was broken. Although this falls under 'failure to disclose' the previous owner didn't want to pay for it.

Initially the lawyer handling the sale bluntly told the sales agent he would not try to secure payment from the previous owner. That's where WWI comes in. I wrote him a letter. I said my knowledge of the law was incomplete so if it was not fair to grant my request I would 'really understand' but, if there was any way he could secure payment from the previous owner, I would 'really appreciate it'. All I asked was for half payment.

"He called back. This is what he said: 'The previous owner is a nightmare to deal with but because you're a nice guy I'm going to make sure they pay for the whole geyser.' Thanks Bob."

That was great! Let's review the principles Justin so expertly utilized.

#1 He chose to "respond" instead of "react". He kept his cool and, instead of getting angry, simply asked himself the best way to handle the situation.

#2 He admitted not knowing the law, implying that the lawyer to whom he wrote was a man of expertise. Contrary to what most people think, this is VERY powerful. Don't try and fake it; instead, play into the ego of the other person and allow him to feel good about himself.

#3 He played upon the person's own feelings of "righteousness". By saying, "If it was not fair to grant my request..." Justin let him know that he was confident the man would do the right thing. Also, very effective. Keep in mind that most people want to "be good" and "do the right thing."

#4 He let him know that he'd understand if it couldn't be done, but would "really appreciate" it if it could. This was an excellent paraphrase of what I call "The Eight Key Words", which are, "If you can't do it, I'll definitely understand" and the follow up, "If you could, I'd certainly appreciate it." These are about the most effective words you can ever use in the persuasion process providing you've set the situation up correctly with politeness and patience, as did Justin.

#5 He offered to accept a payment of just half the amount. Although not necessary, a very nice touch. He's giving before getting.

Of course, in doing all of this, the lawyer saw that Justin was nice, polite, reasonable, fair, and just a really good guy. And he gave him everything he wanted! And, why not?

Great job Justin; you are truly a positive persuader...and thank you for basically writing my column for me this week :-).


NOW--here's the big news: Bob has taken all his wisdom to date and packed it into a new e-book (that is, you download, and if you want a printed copy, you do so from your own printer). 267 pages containing 160 distinct "lessons," plus some absolutely golden "nuggets" at the end. What a treasure trove! And because Bob is a guy who prides himself on providing value, the price is not high--just $19.97. With a full guarantee, of course.

To order your copy, delivered to your e-box as a PDF file, visit http://hop.clickbank.net/?frugalmar.bb0184

I'm betting that you will find tremendous value in Bob's work. He will not only make you a more successful marketer, but a better human being, and less stressed out, to boot.


Down to Business - http://www.frugalfun.com/dtb.html
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Global Arts Review - http://www.frugalfun.com/review.html
* Learn From Frank Lloyd Wright: For Gallery Web Sites, Simplicity is Key
* Play reviews: Berkshire Theater Festival, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
* The Healing Touch (Play reviews: Miniature Theatre of Chester, Old Deerfield Productions, and Weston Playhouse)

Global Travel Review - http://www.frugalfun.com/travel.html
* Cruising to Africa on the Queen Elizabeth II

Frugality Page - http://www.frugalfun.com/frugal.html
* Why Aren't the French Fat? What We Can Learn About Weight Loss From A Cream-Loving Culture-AND From Winnie the Pooh

Peace Page - http://www.frugalfun.com/peace.html
* We Should All Be Pursuing A Lasting Victory Over World Want


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The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, slightly scuffed and dinged. All of them are perfectly readable, and the bindings seem to be in good shape. While supplies last, we're selling them for just $10, plus shipping. Buy 10 or more-pay only $8 apiece plus shipping.

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Order at http://www.frugalfun.com/secureorder.html -- mention the subscriber discount in the comment field--or by phone at 877-FRUGALFUN/413-586-2388

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Dina Friedman, mailto:dina@frugalfun.com,
877-FRUGALFUN/413-586-2388 * Manuscript Consulting * Editing * Training in Writing and Speaking * Overcoming Writers Block * Resumes and Career Services Please visit our 300+ page website at http://www.frugalfun.com for free marketing advice, arts/travel/business zines & more:
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A monthly tip covering writing technique, grammar, creativity, or overcoming writer's block Visit http://www.AccurateWriting.com

Dina Friedman, M.S.W., has worked with individuals and groups on issues for thirteen years. A published fiction writer, poet, playwright, and journalist and winner of several awards and honors, she coordinates academic writing workshops for Mount Holyoke College. She has taught rhetoric, English Comp, and creative writing at the University of Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

You can use our expertise for what you need most: counseling on writer's block, an exercise to get started or get through the stuck places, a thorough edit, help generating ideas, a consult, or just someone to check in with to keep your project going...

On projects involving business marketing or large nonfiction, you may be working with Shel Horowitz, author of five nonfiction books and more than 800 articles. Since founding Accurate Writing & More in 1981, he has worked with numerous business owners, students, and employees to improve their writing.

Please click here to get started--this will send a message to dina@frugalfun.com entitled WritingCoaching--or call 800.683.9673 or 413.586.2388 (9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time).

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