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Book XV is no the most exciting book in The Odyssey, but it “sets up” the next six books in an important way. I was thinking of this as I left Star Wars tonight (which, by the way) is a masterful retelling of The Odyssey). I liked the movie, but I did feel like I was missing something–more than likely the first six movies that would have filled the gaps of my ignorance:). The old lady with a huge mink coat sitting next to me couldn’t help. She came into the wrong theater. My sons were too busy slurping orange soda and popcorn to care about their poor, stumped father. The little kid behind me (who had obviously seen the movie several times already) helped as he whispered “head and hearts” to his cousin throughout the movie. 

Few of us are playwrights or movie makers (yet) so setting up what w say or write is pretty damn important. Too much detail is always better than too little. Getting it just right is the sign of a great writer. Playwrights and movie makers have a distinct advantage in that they can simply “show the scene;” whereas a writer has to “set the scene” with a montage of images and actions–even in a simple journal entry (if you want your entry to rise above the stench of bad writing, and, I guess, even this simple note to my 8th grade class which aims to beg and plead with you to think not only about what you are writing, but also about “how” you are writing.

There is almost always a better way to write than the first thoughts that come to your head, so take these thoughts and do some polishing, refining–and sometimes demolition–to be sure you have done what you can in the time you have to make what you write look and feel real. Your writing should not be a puzzle, though it can be a mosaic of images and actions, similies, metaphors and cleverly reworked thoughts captured in cool phrases, interesting dialogue.

Remember that I grade as much on what you try to do as on what you do. The blogs are not the big game. The blogs are our practice field to work out and get better for the big game. And trust me: the big games will come throughout your life, and the irony is that if you have left enough blood and sweat on the field, you will have even more on the game days of life.

Your writing this past week is to write two entries based on Books XIII and XIV. (And yes, I know that these roman numerals are starting to get too bulky to write.  Damn Romans. And you also need to write two entries of your own.

Anything. On your own. The miracles of your own creations.  Anything.

Make them look good. Be proud of what you try to do, and more than likely you will be proud of what you do.