While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Writing Poetry Instead

It’s dirty little secret time.

I’ve been writing poetry instead of powering ahead with the enigmatically named Novel A (it has a real name, I’m just being cagey in my weekly updates).

Of course, poetry alone is not enough to keep up with the targets, so I’ve plodded away at short stories, long short stories and memoir-ish stuff not fit for the light of day. But generally, I’ve been in a funk for the last string of days. The word counts are there or thereabouts, but it’s a slog.

Except for poetry that is. Even if it’s very straight forward, prose-like poetry (see example below), it seems less like work. It’s a bit worrying that I’m sick of writing sentences about made up stuff this early on, but… Well, there is no But. It’s worrying.

I think the thing holding me back from working on Novel A is that I badly want to get it published. Publication is also the ultimate aim with the short stories I write, but the obvious difference is: it’s a lot less work, blood, sweat and teas (not a typo, I’m a chain tea-drinker all of a sudden) to finish a story than a novel. It’s easier to accept a story being filed away than a novel.

This is the voice of experience. I have two novel-sized manuscripts filed away. They are in the back of my head when I work on Novel A. It’s worse because Novel A bares a striking resemblances to one of the failed & filed manuscripts.

It feels sometimes like I’m one of those foolhardy restaurateurs frittering money away until Gordon Ramsay comes along to save the day. Except, I’m one of those ones who go back to making the same mistakes when F---ing Gordon and the F---ing cameras leave and there’s this quaint epilogue at the end of the episode: Novel A was filed away two months later.

Anyway, there’s a glimpse into my neuroses.

They come and go.

I think it’s worse now that I’m working and have so long to think about writing whilst not writing (I did filing all Thursday and Friday and feel a “Tips for Temps and Employers” entry coming on).

Here’s a poem I wrote which kind of needs to be posted on the internet for it to operate as it hopes it might.


I heard your mother died

but the message had passed

through too many mouths

for me to feel comfortable going

straight to you with condolences.

Words are frail but they are all

some of us have –

limited by physical or emotional distance.

Some, like me, cannot even send the words

to you direct,

we must file them away

or fire them out into the atmosphere

and imagine – for it is only in the

imagination that this could work –

that these words will one day reach you

when the pain has faded

but not the memories

and these words will not remind you of pain or sadness

but just that other people were thinking of you

in that time of pain and sadness.

1 comment:

Educated Fool said...

I'm a poet and writer myself. Interesting blog and I totally feel you on the pressure to impress and be accepted on something youve put some much time and braincells into... so good luck with everything, and try not to worry about money... it comes and goes... as an artists write for yourself... and when you feel times are hard... do what Will Smith did during his apocalypse... Listen to Bob...

"Don't worry about a thing
Because every little thing
gonna be alright"