Happy Anniversary or Product versus Process

It’s gone 11 AM.
I’m still in my PJs after a late breakfast.
Web browsing from email notifications, I’m distracted –
by the arrival of the post (it keeps later mornings than I do, these days…):
a jiffy envelope containing a poetry pamphlet;
there’s a poem on its front cover…

And so my (relatively) work-free days speed by!

This morning, WordPress.com wishes me a  Happy Anniversary.  Apparently, it’s exactly 6 years since I registered and moved here from another popular free site.  I’m not sure it’s cause for celebration – after all, my infrequent blog posts mean it’s been a rather on-off relationship.  147 posts over 6 years (you can do the maths – it’s not my forte).

Lately I’ve been thinking – this:
– about a lack of poem output – finished poems, that is (except they hardly ever are – even the published ones – right?).
– except I have been writing (yes?):

  • interesting words gleaned/heard
  • quotes from other writers/from poems, novels, short stories and articles I’ve read
  • anything from a few lines to a few pages of free writing
  • responses to writing prompts
  • writing for the sake of writing something (anything) new
  • writing out of fear – that I’ll never again write anything worth reading…

– and I’m continually re-drafting poems in that sub folder ‘Work in Progress’
– and when I’m not writing, I’m reading (which is most of the time)
– and I’m reading so that I can write (right?)

And my latest realisations are:
– that I’ve allowed myself to become preoccupied with Product rather than Process
– that I probably ‘produce’ more new writing now than I ever have
– that writing, like any art, requires many hours of practice – and practice is Process
– that the art of writing is probably 99% Process and 1% Product

Anthony Wilson articulated exactly this in his latest #NaBloPoMo post:

A new feeling…not about [books and fame] but about the very opposite of those things, the actual process of writing.

and how this has changed his feelings about his writing:

Now I had let go of my grand designs I began to see my writing differently…a thing of joy…to be relished and played with…that sense of amazing possibility, that sense of ‘Why not…?’ and ‘What if…?’

And what of all my new writing that exists across several notebooks?  Each time I look back at what I’ve written (much of it done in that magical time between semi-wakefulness and sleep – I’m not a morning person) I’m surprised into ‘Did I really write this?’ and  ‘Where did it come from?’

Anthony also writes about discovering some scraps of his writing after a tidy up:

I had no memory of writing the words I was reading.  They felt foreign, as though another writer with my handwriting had entered the house at night and forged my hand.  I read the words but did not understand them.  Something in me began to stir…

I read this and said ‘Yes! That’s it!’  The distance put between Writer and Writing becomes the catalyst; across the gap, a spark.

 

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Room to breathe

In the seven years since our daughter left for university, my husband and I have managed to fill the extra space in our empty nest.  Empty, that is, except when the grandchildren stay overnight.  Empty, that is, until a few weeks ago when daughter, partner and cat moved in temporarily to facilitate their relocation from Aberdeen to the East Midlands.

We are, for now, a household of four adults and three cats.  The garage is cram-jam full of boxes.  Cat Senior (retired hunter and 24/7 radiator hugger) now spends his time controlling use of the cat flap, yowling/growling and scoffing the interloper’s fish selection pouches (stolen food always tastes better).  Cat Junior and husband alike seek refuge in the home office.

Hey ho, it’s a temporary arrangement.  But it’s made me ever more mindful of the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated over the years (19, since we last moved house).  And continue to amass.  With a view to possible down-sizing in the near future I’m already taking small steps in de-cluttering.  Bedroom 1 is almost done.  I’ve left my poetry book shelves till last.

A couple of years ago I ran out of shelf space and purchased another book case from our local charity furniture shop.  So why the growing pile of read-once poetry magazines, pamphlets, collections and anthologies on the bedroom carpet?

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I can no longer find the book I’m looking for because I haven’t stuck to my A-Z by author arrangement.  I’d like my poetry book collection to have room to breathe (and growing space).

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Yesterday I said good-bye to a stack of writing magazines (I no longer subscribe; it’s poetry-light; it’s become too ditsy IMO).  And a few poetry books I’ve no wish to return to (sorry, but they’re not for me).  For now, I’m keeping back copies of my favourite poetry magazines (will I ever revisit them?).  Single author pamphlets and collections are in updated A-Z order.  They’re all in book case 1 and not so tightly packed as before (and there’s room for a few more – I think).

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The neat pile on top is ready for the charity book shop.

Book case 2 will be for anthologies, books on writing poetry and lit crit.  Meanwhile, there’s a new pile of TBR novels (no space in fiction/non-fiction book case in spare room – er, recently re-occupied bedroom) invading poetry territory…

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