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?

Picture it & Write – Bubble (Part 2)

I have a confession. Yesterday’s blog post was written hurredly. It was also written quite late in the day and I began falling asleep as I was typing. As a result. None of it makes a lot of sense. So Here is the “sensible” version.

I follow the Picture it & Write blog at:

Each week they put up a picture as a writing prompt. Normally, I don’t have inspiration within the week (and therefore before the next prompt), but this week I have. Here is my contribution:


A shrink-wrap

Bubble shrouds me

Surfactant surface tension

Closes in on airways

Sucking air from lungs

The world outside

Is unaware of my plight

Hidden by semi-translucent colours

Red, gold, purple


As my cyanosed mouth

Cannot breathe

Or scream for help

Not you would hear me

Nor would you help

Nearing the end…and editing besides

In my last post, I said editing would have to wait – and it did. For about three weeks.

Then I had a sudden urge to edit, chop, rewrite, find, lose (and find again). I concentrated on one poem at a time and carefully combed through each line, weighing up the pros and cons, chopping bits & pieces here and there, rewriting, and, on a couple of occasions, writing a poem entirely different from the original.

Throughout the course, I have pondered whether or not I should submit my work for assessment. If you asked me back in November, I would have said yes, I would.

Now though, it is a resounding no.

My QCF apprenticeship (as discussed in December’s reflection) is requiring more from me than I anticipated – much of this is due to the fact I started it 3 months earlier than expected!

I am barely able to make time to write a short essay for the QCF assessors, let alone provide enough work (raw and polished) for the poetry assessors! So, sadly, I will not be entering my work for formal assessment.

All I need to do now is collate everything, show my “workings out” (as my old teachers would say) and send it off!

Pruning like a (plastic) tree surgeon – final edit

I have approached the writing slightly differently than explained
in the assignment notes, choosing to “shape” the piece after writing the prose version.
This has more to do with how I understand and work-out poetry rather
than any technical or artistic reasoning.

Initially, I marked out where natural breaths would be taken
if the piece was read as prose (this took up much of my time, as,
frustratingly, I kept returning to “poem mode”). I then marked out words that
formed stresses. Where the markings for breath AND stress coincided, I decided
that a new line should be formed. Almost all of the pieces were entirely re-shaped
in this way.

Whilst I was doing this, I often rewrote, edited or
completely deleted lines, which were just “flopping” about, or filling in
spaces where I’d imagined. Actually, I realised that I’d created the spaces
myself; needing to trust my instinct a little bit more to reduce these in newer

The result of all this was the first draft.

I then took a break (enforced by family illness and a

During this period, I thought about the poems, the
structure, the wording and generally how they could be improved. After
returning home, and to the pieces, I edited them again (yes, again!) honing
them a little bit more each time. Further rewrites, editing and more editing
finally produced the result I am (currently) most happy.

I then had to decide which 6 pieces would be my final

Pruning like a tree (or plastic) surgeon – Nip and tuck

Warning – putting poetry into prose form may become addictive!

I had to stop at 8 pieces – only because the remit asks for 6! I may try it with a few more pieces before choosing the submission pieces for assignment 4.

Again, sadly time has conspired against me, as has month of a more than slightly diminished want to be “creative.” That has thankfully subsided. 

I am now ready to tackle a re-edit of some pieces.

But what pieces should I use?

I have chosen one or two pieces from each of the preceding sections, plus a few extra “sidelines” as I’ve started to call them.

I’ve still got bits and bobs of poetry – lines here, words there – but nothing that has so far made a usable full piece. That is, up until today. Tomorrow this state of affairs may have completely changed ( I kind of hope it will). I am even using the poem detailed in my earlier post, Revelations of the iambic type  http://wp.me/p13kAM-t – well, mostly.

This poetry to prose conversion (and vice versa) has got me to thinking which of my other, (much) earlier poems could benefit from this treatment? Watch this space!!!