I’m back – and fully writerly revived

Its amazing what a few days away can do for you, and what catching up on 6 weeks of blog-reading can do too!

I’m going to be re-blogging a couple of articles that caught my eye, from Kristin Lamb (http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com). I thought I would share here, why I am doing so.

Article: Take Your Career to the Next Level–Getting Pruned http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/take-your-career-to-the-next-level-getting-pruned/

It’s probably a couple of years ago when I last discussed pruning in my writing, and my poetry. It’s still something I struggle to do, as I never feel I am pruning enough. Kristin’s insights and advice in this blog-post does well to help with this process.

Article:  Learning to Drop the Donkey–Is Perfectionism Killing Your Career? http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/learning-to-drop-the-donkey-is-perfectionism-killing-your-career-2/

In my mind this is a great follow on article, despite it being written earlier than the pruning article. If you remember my article about the disappearing floor, and the struggle to get rid of that novella that never seemed to get very far even after 14000 words, you’ll understand why I like this article.

I am also reminded of a phrase used in the UK “Why don’t you just drop the DEAD donkey?” This is (as far as I’m aware) directly from a British comedy series called “Drop The Dead Donkey” which was based in and around the office of a small-channel TV news station and the not-so-great journalists who worked there. It was a team made up of dysfunctional, unambitious, often lazy people who would try anything to look good. One episode I remember is when one of the journo’s Damien, has made a report from some “war-torn” town. He interviews an older lady, who speaks no English. The final report is aired – with subtitles translating the “hardship and heartbreak” of her living in this town. The cleaner then comes in and translates it properly for the rest of the team – it turns out that the lady has been paid to come on camera! It is somewhere in the You Tube archives of channel 4 on demand. I’ve tried to search for it, but there was a lot of the show made.

Anyway, so why this slightly random link to a TV show? I realised whilst reading Kristin’s column that sometimes we as writers are the dead donkey to our writing. This could be for a number of reasons. For me, and for many years, it was a lack of self belief and confidence. I never expected my work to be read, or to be good enough to be read – and guess what? I delivered just that.

The dead donkey is, in some respects, the perpetual lie that has been told to us over and over again, either by ourselves, or by others, or both, that we begin to believe, and the fruits we produce is a direct result from this. Hence a need to be pruned. Prune out that old wood that hasn’t produced any edible fruit in years. Take out the trusses of tomatoes that are the smallest to enable all the nutrients to go to the bigger, stronger tomatoes (we’re growing tomatoes in the garden – can’t you tell?). What’s your dead donkey? What needs pruning in your writing life?

Finally the end is now

Well, today I received my final evaluation/feedbackk from my tutor from my distance course with the OCA.

It had some wonderful comments and affirmed in me my thought processes when I wrote each piece.

I kinda feel sad now that it’s all over, but happy that I now have more tools to go in my poetic toolbox (along with the dictionaries and thesaurus’, pens and paper). I’ve been at a loss as to what to put in this blog after the end of the course.

Maybe I’ll just put down my slightly random thoughts on the whole poetic journey, the background – and maybe a few poem sketches/rough drafts?

Who knows – watch this space

And the words just keep repeating – the beginning of the end?

Sorry folks, the reflection hasn’t happened yet, it will by
the end of November – I promise.

Some new ideas and subsequent scribbling has commenced. Much
of it is in completely random orders and it is taking time to even get the
though processes running in a (generally) straight line.

I’ve have had three old poems which I had left as “bottom
drawer” fodder begin to run around in the creative spaces of my brain again.
This exercising (or should that be exorcising?!) of words has had me wondering
why I didn’t think they were working.

Here’s an excerpt from one poem “Kennie”

These buildings were beautiful once

Most still are, in a way.

Forsaken and forgotten, left to rot and
decay.

[…]

Halted regeneration, empty, shut-up houses;

No money, or no hope?

These buildings were beautiful once

Forsaken and forgotten, left to rot and
decay.

I wrote it as the ‘bones’ of a villanelle, but it never
seemed to work. I wracked my brain as to why it didn’t. I’ve wrote and re-wrote
this about 8 times now and still I couldn’t get it to work.

Then last week, it hit me. The reason it wasn’t working was
that it should not be a villanelle. I want to convey too much to confine it to
a set rhyme and meter.

Don’t get me wrong. I love villanelles, I love how they
work, their sound and shape. This poem did not, and would not mould to the shape
I insisted on beating.

“Kennie” is a
Liverpudlian term for one of the Liverpool districts, Kensington. It has been
subject to many years of poverty and latterly, regeneration. This is a slow
process (it is ongoing).

Another reason why the poem stopped working was that I saw
more of those shut up houses in other areas, looking more stricken than a lot
of those in Kensington, which affected what I actually wanted to say.

Another poem, “Mist on the Mersey” also kept popping into my
thoughts. Here’s an excerpt

Mist on the Mersey

Clears as the rain subsides

Lifting to reveal

A shell of Cammel Lairds;

In remembrance of past glory […]

[and] beat out a rhythm in synchronicity

With community spirit that protects

This community’s heart.

Yet buildings go and buildings come […]

Replacing the heart with

Inferior parts unable to mimic the familiar
beat.

See a familiarity? Yup, so did I. This is a poem about the
overhaul that Liverpool went through in preparation for Capital of Culture
2008, and, to a certain extent, is still going through (the newly opened NMGM
Museum of Liverpool Life should have been open in time for CoC08, especially as
the “old” one was packed up and sent into storage in 2006). I wanted (and still
want) to express this somehow.

I think I may need to look up Epic poetry. Any ideas?