by Amy LV
Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.
Students - Have you ever skipped a stone across a smooth water surface? Well, I have to say that it is difficult to skip just one. Whenever I skip stones, I always say, "Oh! That one went two skips! Let's see how many THIS one can go!" or I say, "Darn! No skip! I"m trying again." And so it goes. Over and over. Skipping stones is a very pleasing pastime.
This is a poem I wrote some time back, but looking at it yesterday, I decided to play a wee bit with the line breaks. Look below, and you will see the poem as I thought it was finished. Now look back above. Do you see how the first and last stanzas both spread out in the above poem, almost like skipping stones? As I typed and retyped this one, I decided to play with the lines, and I liked my changes.
It's a funny thing about revision...sometimes changes make our writing better. But sometimes, they make it worse. And that's okay. Part of being a writer is knowing what works and what does not. Part of being a writer is not liking every single thing you write (even when you want to). Part of being a writer is going back again and again and again, just like skipping stones.
What do you like to do over and over? Have you tried going back to your old writing to play with it?
If you would like to see some stone skipping in action, visit Franklin, Pennsylvania. Every year Franklin holds a stone skipping competition! This year's winner took home a pound of fudge on August 25 for the winning skip count of 39! Here's a super-long skip (about 50 skips) posted by the Guinness Book of World Records stone skipping champ, Russ Beyers. The current Guinness world record is 51 skips, by Russ himself!
Interested in the science of stone skipping? This NEW YORK TIMES article digs a bit into some well-studied secrets on the art of throwing stones.
If none of this is enough information for you, you can check out the NASSA (North American Stone Skipping Association!) home page or read THE SECRETS OF STONE SKIPPING, both authored by Jerdone McGhee, the Guinness record holder for stone skipping from 1988 - 2003.
But to really understand this past time, try to find yourself near a rock or a wide creek, a lake or a pond. Gather a few flat stones in your pocket, and toss away!
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