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 😉 ) – 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 “in 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 “drafts” (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, “To 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, “Steal 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.