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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Revolution

In January this year The Lumière Reader's creative writing page published my sort-of story 'The Kick Inside'. This was the first time words written during my quest for a million words were published outside of this blog.

Now, to close out 2008, I have three poems (all written during '08) over at Lumière. Go symmetry!

This comes close on the heels of my poem 'Himalyan White' appearing in Turbine 08.

Hold on a minute. Poetry was never in my plans this year.

But looking back, the signs were there early on that a change was coming.

On the 19th of Jan I had already owned up to writing poetry when my primary objective was Novel A. At that stage poetry was primarily a rebellion: when faced with a blank page, writing 'poetry' (blather with line breaks) could fill the space without having to worry about quality or the chances it would be published -- because I had zero expectations.

But around the same time, my interest in reading poetry was revived. I tackled Paul Muldoon's 'Sillyhow Stride' (on the pretense of being a Warren Zevon fan). The Best NZ Poems 2007 arrived at the end of March when I was getting NZ Lit withdrawal, then I dove into Best Scottish Poems to compare and contrast.

My experiment for the month of April evolved not only into one poem, but a technique which yielded dozens more. ('Josephine', which appears on Lumière, began life as The Tragically Hip's 'Goodnight Josephine' [video below], and 'Himalyan White' was inspired by mangled translations of Procul Harem's 'Whiter Shade of Pale' and The Moody Blues' 'Nights in White Satin', though it piggybacks off my Bhutan research for the perpetually abandoned Novel A).

And then I went to the Scottish Poetry library for the first time, and the second, and the third...

I can't see myself ever becoming more than a dabbler in poetry, which is still more than I envisioned at the start of 2008. But the ability to write something complete in a day holds a strong appeal while surrounded by works-in-progress (or works-on-hold). And, thanks to the internet, to be able to unleash these dabbles upon the world provides the ever-needed reminder that there are readers out there, and writing isn't always an elaborate form of self-flagellation.

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