Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My fragile ego as a writer has just been shattered to bits. But I'll live.

I was asked to write a few poetic lines for a friend of the family's wedding which is happening today, at this very moment actually. So, after reading the groom's heart-felt words describing how and his wife-to-be met over eight years ago in high school at the age of sixteen, I was moved to pen the following for the happy couple:

How much sweeter a love could there be, than love at sweet sixteen?
Through the years it became sweeter still as you shared all of life’s joys
True love knows no bounds or limits
It does not discriminate and
It will be even sweeter still at sixty and beyond

The groom had written nearly two pages, describing how he, a Taiwanese Canadian and she, an Indian Canadian first met in high school. To paraphrase, he described how their friendship soon blossomed into love, how they celebrated their sweet sixteen birthdays together, were there for each other over the years for major celebrations and life events, supported each other while away at different universities and through the transition into the working world. Although *certain others* have expressed concerns about bi-racial issues, the happy couple have never felt challenged by ethnic differences. In the indubitable words of the groom: "We are very happy to be getting married and looking forward to our life together. We have always strived to make each other happy and will continue to do so as husband and wife. (...) grateful to God for bringing us (...) together as sixteen year olds and now letting us spend the rest of our lives together."

Well, I thought I did a pretty good job of capturing the essence of the groom's thoughts in five little lines.

But now I've been asked to edit down my poetically penned lines down to THREE lines!

I have no say in the matter because:

I haven't been personally been invited to the wedding banquet.
I won't be the one actually doing the reading.
I wrote it this for my mother is the one who will be the one doing a reading at the wedding banquet.
The parents of the groom are micro-managing the wedding banquet schedule down to the minute and they keep cutting down the time limits for speeches being given.
Now my mother wants something more readable, simple and translatable (into Hoklo Taiwanese).

I feel like I've lost creative control- like I've surrendered my creative license in more ways than one. The unappreciated artist in me grumbles and the child in me throws a tantrum over the ever SO essential two lines lost. A little melodramatic you think?! Well, words are all a writer has, carefully picked and placed words...

So after much screaming and kicking, here's the watered down... I mean *edited* version:

What could be sweeter than love at sweet sixteen?
As the years passed, you shared all of life's joys and it became even sweeter
Surely, it will be even sweeter at sixty and beyond

*Sigh* it's just not the same is it?! I do believe in the value of editing, but it's difficult to strike a balance between trying to economize on words, preserving one's vision or message, and pleasing the crowd.

I can only hope that the Hoklo Taiwanese translation does my three little lines justice...


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