Monday, 23 April 2018

Three Years On

I'm useless at waiting, so need to distract myself.

Going back to look at the first posts in this blog has reminded me how far I've come in the past three years since I reminded myself I AM a Writer and that I should just get writing again. I had been wallowing, delaying, allowing myself to be distracted, putting in the minimum effort and receiving no payback.

Three years on I'm writing regularly, sending out submissions constantly, in a writing group, applying for grants. I've finished my poetry collection, sent two books to publishers (hence the waiting) and am actually feeling like a writer again. It has boosted my confidence in myself and in my writing. 

I've had to remind myself to sit down and write, just like I have with students before. Not just that first few weeks, but over and over again the past three years. On days when I just want to crawl back into bed, after a big pile of rejections, when I want to sit on my phone in waiting rooms instead of pulling out a pen and notebook, when I have a million other things that seem more important. I need to make the time.

I try and treat it like a job where I'm required to go to my desk every week day. Weekends with all the kids home is just too difficult, but I still manage sometimes. I set myself goals: the 100 rejections, my to-do list, to finishing my collection, bringing a section to my writing group when I attend and then rewriting it the next week. 

I still have setbacks, where I'm frustrated by so few acceptances, by the lack of inspiration, by my slow progress. I kick myself and go back to the words. Just spending time, writing without worrying about where it will lead is often enough to get me going again. 

It's been slow forward movement, but I hope that I can keep it up and soon begin to see more positive results. I'll keep pushing forward and try not to get bogged down in the waiting. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Pushing on with GloPoWrMo

I was hoping to get all inspired with Global Poetry Writing Month and work on some half finished poems or start new ones, but I really haven't had a chance to focus at all on poetry, needing to turn back to fiction and my novels. I was finally able to get back to my writing group so had to prep my submission for that and then edit and rewrite the section a few days after their response.

I also submitted a query letter to a publisher for my first novel and received a request to send them the first 50 pages and then the whole novel, so I had to quickly proof-read that and fight my printer to send out a hard copy. 

Now I have a builder with a min-jackhammer working in the room next to where I write, so poetry has taken a bit of a back seat this last week.

But it's never too late to start on new writing. I've found an old file with notes that could be developed into a poem. I've also taken a prompt from Judy Reeve's The Writer's Book of Days and begun to just free write around it with the theme of my notes in mind. 

It always amazes me to watch stream-of-conscious writing happen, especially my own. How my thoughts jump from one subject to the next, the dark corners I explore without meaning to, the jewels that are exposed in the process. The questions that come up are often too difficult to explore in one piece of writing, but are worth using for more writing practices even if I never do anything with them. 

Students who have never done this sort of writing are often worried when they go off theme, but I believe that is where you find the truth of what you want to write. I don't believe you should push a poem to be something you want, when your creative voice is demanding to say something else. It's been my experience that those words will continue to try an come out as much as you want to ignore them. 

I need to listen to my own advice. The dark corner that was revealed with this last writing practice should be explored, but I will do it in my own time. Difficult subjects or moments don't have to be broached immediately and definitely don't need to be shared, but it's worth doing some private writing about them, to see where they take you. 

My list of 'Things I Want to Write' I made back in January is almost all ticked off. I have one poem that's almost finished and one that's still in the sketching stage. I have a vague note about a poem I'd like to write in the future, but not ideas about how to approach it, so that will be transferred to a new list. So I think that will be part of my focus for my writing practice tomorrow, a new 'To Write' list. 

What are you doing for GloPoWrMo?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Easing into April and GloPoWrMo

The past month has included bronchitis, Easter break and motherboard failure, but I've come out the other side in one piece. I actually managed to get a lot of editing done because I didn't have the breath to get out of the house much until this weekend. That final poem is 'done', my collection is off on its first jaunt to a publisher and Spring has finally arrived in Finland, making every little success that much better.

It's also National/ Global Poetry Writing Month - NaPoWrMo. I'm already too behind the game to write a poem a day. So I think I will focus on finishing some poems that have been hanging around for a while or are mid-process,  try to get some of them finished. This article on Trish Hopkinson's site looks just the ticket to get me going. Expand before you pare down. 

I tend to write reams before I start to shape a poem, but sometimes when a poem is flailing and you're ready to give up, going back and expanding on the language and ideas can be a good way to breathe life back into it. 

What will you do for GloPoWrMo? Check out the official website for ideas and writing prompts.

I thought I would share a poem from a lovely Scottish poet I heard read last month, Christine De Luca. I was totally shocked to hear that she would be reading in Finland, so in the midst of my bronchitis I dragged myself out to hear some poems in English, Shetlandic and Finnish. Totally worth it to hear her work and to catch up on some names I knew from my time in publishing. 

She read with Finnish poet Riina Katajavuori and it was interesting to see how much I could or couldn't understand of her translations of Christine's work and her own work. I even had a translator give me her card, suggesting she could translate my poems into Finnish. Very tempting, but I can't even think where to start with that.

A poem from Christine's website, in Shetlandic, the Scots' Norn hybrid dialect of the Shetland Islands. 

Celebrate in wirds

True poems steer up athin dat inner space,
an touch dat hert-holl at we tocht intact:
dat blissit place we geeng tae on wi ain.
Dey open hoidey-holls we’d bolted fast.

Der wirds is dew apö da speeder’s wub:
gems ta winder at, ta daey wir straff.
Der music an der rhythm’s shape can baith
say 'dance!', say 'birl!', say 'celebrate!'. Foo saft

der tizin is dy trvvel roond da heart,
open wir een ta newness or a sicht
o foo a coose o patterns play der pairt,
mak space fur wis, yet rowe arrond wis ticht
ta hap wis safe fornenst wir doots and faers.
A poem is wir meid, wir hamewird licht.

hert-holl: the very innermost part: tocht: thought; geeng: go; hoidey-holls: secret hiding places; apö: on; daev: lessen; straff: anxiety; tizin: tempting; trivvel: gently grope; foo: how; coose: heap; wis: us, rowe: wrap up; hap: wrap in shawl; fornenst: against; meid: landmark to guide fishermen

Christine De Luca, Luath Press, 2005

And here's a poem by Riina Katajavuori: 


Kadut, raitiovanunkiskot, kahdeksikot ja kirkon piikki
pakatuina hiljaiseen kääroon.

Nenällä laskeuttu adressi
johon on kirjoitettu jonkin sitaatti,
luen sen ensi kertta.

Olen syvällä hatussani.
Nostan tuleen,

Amazing how I can recognise most of the words, but they just don’t come together as poetry for me yet.

I’m going to have to hunt out more poetry readings to attend as I really enjoyed going to this one and chatting with other artists, writers afterwards. Like old times.