polishing up, finishing off

30 November, 2009

One of the things I find hardest about writing (apart from sitting down and actually ruddy doing it, of course) is going back to a poem after it’s been workshopped and trying to edit it. Even if you’re well aware of the poem’s limitations, in between the writing and the editing it somehow seems to solidify and resist further work. A word or two here and there is ok; rewriting whole lines I find really hard. Somehow that initial feeling you had while writing the poem has hardened and refuses to let you warm it up again and reshape it. (One of my coursemates described this kind of difficulty in much more colourful terms, but I’ll spare you the hilarious analogy.)

So it’s taken me longer than it really ought to do the tinkering that was required of the terza rima sequence I wrote at the end of October. I think I need a second opinion (or two) on some of the changes; I’ve gone through and dealt with all the clunky bits that were pointed out to me, and written a different ending to the whole thing, but at this distance I can’t work out if I’ve done enough, or just added more clunk. I have, however, submitted it (and a piece that was workshopped first-time round) to a poetry magazine, which is the first time I’ve ever done that (having been meaning to since the beginning of last year). So, fingers crossed. And again, if you want to see either piece, drop me a line.

What other news. Well, advent is here; last night I went to a very beautiful and atmospheric advent service at the cathedral. The anglican church certainly does mystery, and beauty, and symbolism very well: sitting in darkness, watching the spread of light from the choir’s candles, was a rich moment. But I’m still agonising over what to do with my advent/Christmas card offering this year. Tear it all up and start again? Try to make something out of what I already have?… We’ll see, I guess.

Week three of The Artist’s Way. I’m still enjoying it, despite the pseudo-spiritual weirdy Americanness of it. I’m convinced that writing the morning pages are helpful on lots of levels. I’ve been doing all sorts of things that I was a bit too stressed out to do a few weeks ago, including lots of feeding people recently (always nice).

But just as helpful, if not more so in terms of actual writing, is Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret, kindly passed on to me by Maggi Dawn. Since printing off a calendar for the rest of the year (I’ll get a proper wall planner for 2010), I haven’t missed a day’s writing. Which has got to be some kind of a record (when it comes to poetry, anyway). Thanks, Maggi!

This post brought to you by visiting friends, advent candles, the magic of Sunday roasts and their beautiful fall-out, and long runs round the broad

9 Responses to “polishing up, finishing off”

  1. maggi said

    thank you! am taking that as a hint too!! πŸ™‚

  2. kayvee said

    oh and I should have said – I made my advent candle following the instructions on your blog. so thank you for that too!

  3. Andrew S said

    How about posting ‘before and after’ terza rima?

  4. gemma said

    I am loving your blog. Keep it up. That is all xx

  5. […] Well, term ended last Friday so I thought I’d give the blogging a rest over the holidays – especially as, with freelancing, coursework and all the usual Christmas preparation, I somehow feel busier than ever. The wall next to me is covered in post-it notes as I try to thrash out the structure of my Poetics essay; there’s a big freelancing job that needs to be finished urgently; I’m still (!) working on my advent poem – will it ever be finished? – and then there are the rest of this term’s pieces that need more work. […]

  6. […] that she’s right, but I feel exhausted just thinking about it. I’ve talked about the difficulty of editing before, but this feels different. It’s as though you’ve made a great big jelly in the shape of […]

  7. […] 2010 I’ve been pretty much mute for the last week; for the first time since November I ‘broke the chain’ and went quite a few days without writing anything. It was partly an emotional response to a rather […]

  8. […] vaguely inspired feeling). But from November until a couple of weeks ago I was very good about not breaking the chain, trying to just crank it out, no matter what. I was in the middle of this just having fallen to […]

  9. […] Be strict about doing a little of whatever it is you’re doing every day – even if just for fifteen minutes. Which is the same advice as not breaking the chain. […]

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