This is note for me as much as for anyone reading this that April is National Poetry Month.
And as such, I will be participating in NaPoWriMo. After last year’s NaNoWriMo defeat (acknowledged and decided upon to make myself feel better) I vowed to participate in NaPoWriMo this coming month instead.
I’ve always considered myself to be more a poet than a fiction-writer. The reasons for this are probably more complicated then I have yet realised, but when asked I tell people it’s because I don’t have the intellectual capacity nor grand ideas to Write A Novel.
This may be true.
What is also true is that I like poetry. I like taking little wordy snapshots of what I see and/or feel or what I make up for others (often fictional) to see and/or feel. I like to play around with words and shapes, and sometimes sounds, in a way that fiction can let you, but which my brand of fiction doesn’t. I want to be self-indulgent, and with poetry I feel that I can do just that. And I don’t even care whether it’s read or liked! Fiction wants readers to inhabit and get lost in its world, poetry stands alone and asks you questions. I like that.
In addition to NaPoWriMo, April is also the month of Finishing LIS Assignments and Going on Holiday – so I picked a good time to write a poem every single day. However, I guess that’s the aim of the thing: overcome adversity and keep swimming.
So, if you’re so inclined, please do check back over April where I will hopefully be posting the products of my NaPoWriMo challenge every day. (Apart from the last week, during which I will be abroad. I’m telling you now so you know I’m not cheating.)
Looking forward to a busy April!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve been rabbiting on slightly about Big Plans and Small Plans and whether reading Ulysses counts as Big or Small. Among other things.
Planners scare me. Big Planners intimidate me. Isn’t it enough to know what I’m doing for the next four years?! (Kind of no choice and all, unless I quit the MSc, but you know…) And in the next four years, I don’t think I will be travelling the world and changing it for everyone. So then, I’ll be 20-something-else – and is that too late?
I’m going to guess right now that the answer to that is ‘no’. And that it’s the attitude that makes the difference. My ‘little’ dreams will keep me happy and I still have time to find a really, really BIG one.
Having said that, I have a feeling that my real big dream wouldn’t be to go everywhere and change everything, but stay in my head and make something really awesome that goes out there and does it for me.
The first time I had this panic, I made a little list of Things I’d Like to Do. I’m going to share what I have of a List so far. No laughing!
Once I hit ‘publish’ then the list is real and everyone can laugh, I mean, share their own stupid ideas…
So, yeah – any Plans, Big or Small? Or Ridiculous? Oh, and feel free to yell at me for suggesting that size is important.
Life awakens, relinquishing secure dormancy
to become ephemeral and sudden in the quickening heat.
Wings uncurl, words return, birds soar
above the reflective pool, bodies creating waves
when they return
to the surface, to land.
the ripples still form,
spreading wide across the water,
searching for the source.
I realised some time ago that I stopped writing poetry at about the same time that my first major relationship broke down. At the time I didn’t know whether to feel sad about it, or that it was too melodramatic. Did it even matter that I had stopped writing? And what did it say that without him I had nothing to write about?
For a long while, when I was much younger I hasten to add, all I wrote about was him: how he made me feel, what he was like, where we were going etc etc. and if I had stopped writing when we broke up, surely I wasn’t really Writing anyway, I was just being indulgent.
In the two years since realising this, I’ve written on and off, and started this blog as an attempt to get used to writing and sharing writing again. I thought that with an audience I might want to write more, and differently, and that mythical ‘inspiration’ might strike and make me into a Poet at any given moment and that you would all be pleased for me.
As you can see, it hasn’t really gone that way. However, today I think I have learned something about Myself as a Writer – and something about what that means.
I took an hour out from my sick bed this afternoon (once I stopped wondering if I was going to throw up every 20 minutes) and walked around the nature reserve across the road. I sat on the bench by the pond, perched on tree stumps, logs, fallen trees, took detours, ran – for the hell of it – and found myself writing. And the thing is, I know I couldn’t have done that if I’d have been with someone else.
This is, of course, not a slight on the people I spend my time with. They’re lovely and wonderful and keep me busy and stop all the introspection that has always caused me to write poetry in the first place. But today it was comforting to realise that writing these little snippets might actually be something that I do, and not just a product of indulgence and suggestion. And that I don’t need a personal trigger, I’m not just a person who write about Things That Have Happened To Her, I can think outside of the box.
I’ve realised that I can write on my own, in fact, I’m much better at this sort of thing alone. I can forget other people long enough to be myself, as the postcard in my bedroom says.
I fact, I could be learning, or re-learning depending on your point of view, how to write the sort of thing that could be read, and the kind of thing that reflects me. I’ve always said I’m no good at photography, and I can’t draw to save my life. So I was a little surprised today to find that what I was writing were little pictures caused by the things around me. Back in the day when I was writing about Feelings and the like, I would have laughed at the thought of myself writing poems about nature, and the world. “I’m not William fucking Wordsworth”, I would have thought. And I’m not!. So while the things I penned today are still Things That Happened, they’re (hopefully) more accessible, and more reflective of where I’ve gone with this. There is more to write about than Feelings, and I always knew that. It’s just nice to know that I can do that sort of writing – or at least, I have the potential to, as dangerous as potential is.
Learning to write again is a slow process, and it looks as though it will involve a lot of time spent on my own. But I kind of like that. I think I can work out how it’s done on my own. For the past eighteen months I’ve been hopefully carrying a notebook and pen around with my when friends and I go to visit nice places. Turns out, the nice places are irrelevant. It’s the being on my own that helps. Which explains why I always think of something to write when I’m doing something unconsciously; like driving, or washing up, or taking a shower – and not when I’m trying to do something complicated like remember how to co-ordinate all my limbs and breathing at the same time while at the gym.
Also, this means that NaPoWriMo may not be the terrible, painful, woeful struggle I expected it to be! But let’s not count the chickens yet…
Sun-bleached and stripped of bark,
Someone’s initials scratched into dead flesh,
Lean toward one another.
Curve up. Curve down.
Couples sit on smooth soft logs;
Old. Young. Together.
Untouched leaves remain,
But new life spring, expectant.
My hands still grow cold.
for the first time this year.
Walking under springtime sunshine,
Counting fibonacci numbers on
Perching on logs by the water’s edge, and
this early warmth.
A bell rings distantly,
carries across this first clear sky.
It is not
And the crisp, curled corpses of leaves shudder
above and fall still again
to dry and dessicate further
in the new spring sunshine.