NaPoWriMo: the home stretch

The sun is shining over the last day of the Leicestershire Easter holidays.  I’ve been sitting by the pond, having forsaken notebook, smart phone and computer screen to compose a poem in my head (see The Poetry School’s Day 23 prompt here).  The cats are gamboling like spring lambs and my husband’s cleaning the kitchen.  There’s poetry and music everywhere, it seems.

What I’m listening to: ‘The Songs & Poems of Molly Drake’ by The Unthanks

Finding poetry in the prose: Sarah Baume’s ‘A Line Made By Walking’

Lines I wish I’d written:

…we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice

from‘Nothing Twice’ by Wislawa Symborska

and, by way of contrast, most of the lines from Kathryn Maris’ ‘Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books?’ (priceless)

Out & about: a walk amongst the bluebells in Swithland Woods with a friend:

image

The Easter holiday’s not been all poetry, music and frolics.  Far from it.  For the past two weeks I’ve been doing DIY and cleaning – LOTS of cleaning.  We’re putting our home of twenty-plus years on the market (we’re down-sizing) so there’s lots to do in readiness for agent’s photos and prospective viewings.  And I’m no domestic goddess.

So participating in NaPoWriMo has been balm when all out of elbow grease.  Thanks to Carrie Etter’s Facebook group, prompts from various sources (see previous blog post) and inspiration in unlikely places (clickbait, Monty Don – and DIY/cleaning), I’ve stuck to writing a poem a day for the first April ever.

I really am grateful to fellow members of Carrie’s group; we’ve kept each other going, I think, with progress/process posts and comments, and I’ve also discovered forms that are new to me (yay for the Golden Shovel and the wealth of prompts, techniques, games and writing generators on Language is a Virus!).

I’ve cultivated a daily routine of new writing early in the day and typing up before bedtime to begin the re-drafting process on-screen (where I can faff about and move stuff around – and still be able to read what I’ve written).  I now have seventeen poem drafts in my new sub folder (*pinches self*) and pages and pages more in my notebook which may get picked over/plundered at some point in the future.  So there are poems with wings and lines with legs (or maybe it’s the other way around – time will tell) and probably some with feet of clay.  At least I haven’t left my initial efforts to languish (I’m mindful of that pile of filled-and-forgottens on a shelf in my study).

There’s one more week to go, which won’t be so easy with the start of term in the offing, but the finishing line’s in sight (and, no, I have’t been watching TV footage of the London marathon 🙂 ).

Whatever you’re doing this fine day, I hope that some of it’s the stuff that makes you feel whole.

x

 

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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.