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Thursday Craft: Flash Fixity Might Cure What Ails You

I first heard the term “fix­ity” in a poetry class I took with the won­der­ful Terri Brown-David­son: “Fix­ity. What fix­ity, any­way? Sup­pos­edly, it’s the per­fect poetic word for the per­fect poetic occa­sion.” She ques­tions whether per­fect fix­ity is pos­si­ble in our imper­fect world, and I agree, but it’s fun to imag­ine that it isn’t so, that we live in a world where the Real exists and our words can actu­ally cap­ture it, and that for every slot in our sto­ries, we might find the per­fect fit.

I do think poetic lan­guage rarely relies on gen­er­al­i­ties, pre­fer­ring instead pre­cise, detailed words. And whether it’s true of every word or only most of them, poetry exhibits a sense of fix­ity, that per­fect word in the per­fect spot, as if no other word would do. 

For exam­ple, here’s an orig­i­nal draft of a para­graph in a story about a man meet­ing his neigh­bor:

He thinks about my kids, my wife. In one ver­sion, I imag­ine telling him the truth, how I messed around with this grad­u­ate teacher, how I told my wife and wasn’t redeemed and lost the chil­dren.

Here’s a revised ver­sion, with a greater aware­ness of find­ing fix­ity:

He won­ders about my kids, my wife. In one sce­nario, I imag­ine telling him the truth, how I nailed this grad­u­ate teacher, how I con­fessed and wasn’t for­given and sac­ri­ficed the kids.

In the revised ver­sion, I searched for more speci­fic words and also tried to choose them from the same “set” of words, in this case from the realm of reli­gion (won­ders, con­fessed, for­given, sac­ri­ficed, nail). And chil­dren became kids: lambs.

So that’s Thursday’s Flash Craft idea. Find fix­ity. And if it isn’t fix­ity, it might be broke. 

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