My Narrative

This post started out as a comment on That is My Story and I’m Sticking to It, by Elusive Trope (Douglas Branson). When I reached 500 words, I realized it needed to be a blog. It’s probably better this way, since I haven’t stayed strictly with the points that Doug makes in his blog. If you haven’t read it, I strongly urge you to do so. For one thing, it’s great to see someone starting out by citing a post by another blogger – Emily Clapper, or Poet Girl Em, (as I’ve done here – self-plug πŸ˜‰ ) – but for another… of the points that I do address, he does so much more eloquently.

Mr. Trope talks to us about his recent hiatus from writing – not a writer’s block, but a nearly conscious decision to not write for three weeks, except for notes and preparation for his return to writing.

For me, a hiatus from writing would be a period followed by a completely fresh start, unless I were to take notes/jot down ideas during the hiatus, as it seems Doug did. A true hiatus would mean walking away from writing and the thought of it. My memory is so poor that writing for me is fueled by what is β€œin front of me.” If they don’t have enough details, the notes might not be enough to jog my memory. I’ve gone back to β€œdrafts” (I hesitate to even call them that) of a verse or less, and they might as well be written by someone else. With the source or inspiration lost in the past, I see nothing in the lines. (On the other hand, I have no problem tweaking a poem that was completed fifteen years ago.) Once I start something, I tend to either see it through or let it languish. It’s the whole hyper-focusing aspect of ADD – hours, or even a day, spent writing a short poem, while ignoring necessary routines. (Right now, I should be staining woodwork for a door I’m installing!) So, if I were to be taking notes, I’d be compelled to continue to produce something from them, and it wouldn’t be a hiatus. I guess it’s a catch-22 for me, when it comes to writing. A conscious effort needs to go into it, or I’ve entered a blank-slate-hiatus, with no anticipation of re-starting until motivated.

I need motivation to write. After two years with a total of twenty or so poems, I wrote nearly three love poems a week for the next year. Once that tapered off, I got myself back into the groove of writing by following prompts here at WordPress – allowing that to fuel my imagination – which, in turn, motivated me to write other than prompt responses. WordPress has been good for me. 99% of my writing in the last three years has appeared here. With more than 300 poems posted in that time (more than a third of that in the last six months), that’s double my output in what I considered a good year, ten or fifteen years ago.

From a quote that Emily gives us from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, Doug cites, β€œTo narrate is to create…” and goes on to talk about a writer’s need to be both a participant and a narrator, with the mental narrative about his observations and experiences an imperative in his quality of life. Any time I read an Elusive Trope I feel like I’m observing a life through the eyes of someone who really intrigues me, and I find myself wanting to know more about that life. He excels at narrating with the barest of details.

As for myself, and creating a narrative, when I’m alone I tend to talk to myself, whether it’s about something I hear on NPR, a character in a favorite show, or simply reviewing my thoughts and emotions regarding my own life. I know that when I go through a phase like that, it’s easier for me to write. Fleshing out ideas, perhaps? A turn of a phrase or someone’s reaction to circumstances becomes a part of the narrative that ends up in my own words – perhaps the thievery-as-inspiration alluded to by Jim Jarmusch.

Our Mr. Trope quotes him from an interview in Movie Maker Magazine, in which he says, β€œSteal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or feeds your imagination.” He includes old films… new films… books… paintings… and on and on, including conversations and scenery. I would interpret this as adding a new narrative to the world the writer is experiencing. (Again, I urge you to read his blog.)

……………

I’m Back! (I took a two hour brake to stain that door and woodwork.)

……………

In his blog, Doug Branson talks about completing his book, a collection of poetry and photography. It’s good to see that he has followed through on his ambition to self-publish. The choice for his cover photo is most appropriate, considering his pursuit to capture the perfect door, and the first few poems are already pulling me in. The majority of the collection is comprised of posts from his WordPress account, but I look forward to reading it with new insight.

I have submitted something for publication only once, when I entered the competition for the 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Award, sponsored by The Poetry Foundation. Culling through my writing from the previous twenty years, I sought to document the transitions that I experienced during that time. Seeing brief biographies of the winner and some of the other entrants, I realize my submission would have had to be something hit out of the park, to compete with writers having such experience in academia, as well as a strong presence in the poetry community. Now and then, I pull out that manuscript and think I should look into self-publishing. Some day.

There you have it – a blog comment that evolved into a blog, and the door that almost got in the way of finishing this narrative.

Ken G.

My Narrative

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18 thoughts on “My Narrative

  1. Is it fitting or a social (blogging) faux pas to jump in first? My social anxiety is kicking in. I have to put out there it is, for me at this moment in time, strange to read about yourself in the third person through the perception of another…not meant to be morbid or macabre, but it is kind of like attending one’s own funeral, except one isn’t dead. (At least I don’t think I am).

    I totally get that “blank-slate-hiatus” – which is an awesome term for it. And I hadn’t thought about my own compulsion to talk out loud to myself as being, in part, a resistance to lure of the blank-slate-hiatus. The best example I have is that the three times I drove (by myself) from Seattle, WA to Muncie, IN in the past ten years, I never listened to the radio of CD player. It doesn’t take long before I’m talking out loud what would normally just be “conversations” in my head. I can even turn it into a “radio interview”. Of course, the racing thought syndrome from having Bipolar Disorder contribute to all that.

    [The stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt has this great routine when he talks about the only place he doesn’t want the FBI ‘wire tapping’ is the inside of his car because of his reflex to just start babbling fragments and nonsense while he drives.]

    I still feel tied out of necessity to various prompts and challenges, not for every post, but a lot of times without them I doubt I could get focused enough to produce a ‘final product.’

    Your post I think really make clear each of us have to find our own way across the terrain of writing. We will all share commonalities as well as differences. Not only that but the way in one period of one’s life may not necessarily be the way in another period.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true about different periods. Life is a series of transitions.
      As for talking in the car… Yep. I once took a trip from Buffalo to Chicago, on to Shreveport, then back to Buffalo by way of Nashville – nearly 3,00 miles by the time I was done, and I may have listened to 10 hours of music. The rest of the time I listened to myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good perspectives in both of your posts.
    Nina and I started our blog as a way to look at each other’s art without the clunkiness of emailing it back and forth and I threw in the occasional haiku, and where we are now…who would have thought? WordPress is totally responsible for where I am now creatively. I had no idea; not only prompts but the inspiration of the ideas and links from everybody. We would never have done all the work we’ve done in the past two years without it. So thanks!
    And I think breaks do cut the momentum…but necessary sometimes. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just tried out the prompt officially from WordPress about water, I even worked out about pingback, on the right day and not a week later. (although I think I posted it about four times) I have been told as long as I know I am talking out loud to myself…As for writing I think people (ok me) move on to different things at different times. Sometimes we (I) need fallow times to collect ideas for storage and mullination, which is just as important as doing the writing. I just have to work out how to sort my photos on to my blog….then I might even get my own website thing…oh some of us take such little steps πŸ™‚ Thanks for the alerts to others’ Blogs and sharing your steps.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading your post–companion piece to Doug, Mr. Elusive Trope’s post. It’s fascinating to read how people work. I enjoyed the comments, too–getting a “Kumbaya” feeling here. πŸ™‚ Really, there’s such support in this community, along with the wonderful quality of teaching and learning new ideas.
    I’m a historian by training, and when I started my blog, I thought it would be sort of a history blog, plus other “musings,” but along the way, I’ve become a poet (I’ve decided I can call myself that), and the blog has become a creative outlet. Sometimes more, because I’m neglecting other work (that door looks great, by the way). πŸ™‚ At the same time, I think poetry forces one to really look at word choice and rhythm, so in that respect it helps my other writing. Just go with that.

    And I’m rambling because I’m tired. So I’ll stop.

    Liked by 1 person

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