You know what’s a clever thing to do when you’re working a lot of 12-hour days? Start a poetry accountability project with some friends.
Really. It’s SUCH a good idea.
But my usual Instigator Friend said let’s do it. So here I am on the other side of a very sleep-deprived week, and I have seven new drafts.
See, I have a real problem. My problem is, I often wait to write new stuff until the mood strikes me. You know the mood I mean – the “let’s write something!” mood.
Let me tell you about the mood. The mood is very nice to have, in those golden moments when it presents itself.
The mood is also:
- surprisingly rare
- easily crushed by anxiety and depression
- and generally an asshole.
Seriously, fuck the mood.
In my experience, writing sometimes happens when you wait for it to happen.
But when you plan for it to happen, it happens a whole lot more. Sometimes what you produce sucks and sometimes it’s a workable draft, but you need both of these to happen in order to build the body of work.
I’ve done two poetry “grinds” previously (see here and here). (And here’s another great post about the practice.) This time my Instigator Friend called it a ‘”cleanse” and suggested we do it for a comparatively brief seven days.
A week really seems perfect – it’s long enough to produce both some junk and some good stuff, without too much pressure. But it’s not so long that the sleep deprivation will actually kill you. In fact we liked the outcome so much that we are planning to do it once a month. So in theory every month would look like this: one week for generating new work; the other three weeks for revising and submitting.
This time around, I came into it with a lot more intention. During the day I would focus on something and think “I want to write a poem about that.” (These were not grand topics of import to the humanist project. These were like “I’m going to write about that bird outside my office” or “I’m going to write about my neighbor’s dog.”) Then at about 9pm, when I should have been going to bed, I’d open a Word doc and start the poem. Let me tell you, the first things I write are always crap. I mean, always.
Here – for your amusement – are some opening lines:
I don’t LIKE pantoums, that’s all
I’ve never ever had one work at all
eve, eva, ever, either
is she never never neither
eva, evita, evelyn, evie,
write something sexy
about a man and a woman
who aren’t supposed to be together
And then: I kept going. I wrote something. Something at least passable. Because I had to. Because I said I would.
Major recurring topic: [birds]