Today I was at my kid’s school assembly. Lots of awards, lots of missing teeth smiles, lots of parents with cameras. Today there were at least 10 awards for poetry. I found myself wondering if school was the last time any of us budding authors wrote a poem. So agreed, its not a dead art as kids still stretch the artistic boundaries but does anyone else still write a poetic verse ?
At 14 I fell in love with The Horses by Edwin Muir – a little post apocalyptic verse which hypnotised me. I think I was going through a goth period. Today I reread the verse and whilst not so hypnotised I fell in love with verse as an art all over again. I attempted the art myself. Nothing came. A cup of tea was made and still nothing came.
Is poetry a skill best left to those who have never had to write a 30 page management report ? Is it best left in the hands of those who’s sentence construction has not been critiqued by committee. I wonder.
The Poem Hunter http://www.poemhunter.com/ is a great site to help you rediscover all the works that once hypnotised you and perhaps help you to find the unstructured one within once again.
Signing off with a bit of Edwin’s best
“Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.”
Edwin Muir “The Horses”
Yes we all get it. Whether it is writing the last chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Thunder & Lily, now unfinished for over a year, or posting the next blog. Writer’s Block with blogging is way more confronting – as I found out this week. I found comfort in the thought that writer’s block if you tweet must be so frightening that it would paralyse you. Well maybe not – not if you feel comfortable just telling the world what you had for dinner compared to the need to manage your “intellectual” or “humorous” persona.
And there lies the problem, when it happens it can happen for lots of reasons but our reactions define us. Mine, it appears, is to seek consolation in others imaginary problems being worse than mine. What is yours ? Wikipedia has a nice little unemotional dissection of the problem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer’s_block.
I love wikipedia – don’t you ? Definitely on my list of sites I’d take to the desert island.
So what are our typical reactions:
- Ignore it and hope it goes away
- Think it could be worse and take comfort in that thought, as I do
- Avoid any attempt to restart the work
- Fill our time with non productive tasks to feel productive but not address the issue – “the busy fool”
I used to do a lot of project based work in my previous life and I thought to address the problem what I should do is treat it like a problem project so these tips might help you:
- Call a meeting with yourself to discuss the problem (Blackberries off please)
- Dissect the problem in detail (pre-buying a whiteboard will help)
- List some actions to address issues – such as trying to turn the computer on to confront our fears
- Allocate Accountability “A” for the actions and a timeframe for completion – I love this one as you can run around screaming “Who has the “A” for this task ?”. Okay so you will have the A for everything on this list but it is still fun.
- Schedule the next project meeting and note who is bringing morning tea.
I found this quite helpful and discovered that a problem in itself was a solution – blog about Writer’s Block. Also a good idea to Google Writer’s Block – there are lots of helpful tips out there – I like About.com’s list http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm
Sorry I have to log off now as I’m late for the project meeting about the last Chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Thunder & Lily and I’m on morning tea
All great pieces of work start with a moment of inspiration. This can be quite random and with the exception of technical pieces there needs to be a moment for the work to have an anchor. Okay so some people make a reasonable living writing formula romance but if you have ever read any of these works I doubt that you felt inspired far less remembering the plot a week later. Is that too cruel, well maybe a little as books can also provide us with opportunities to escape. But anchorless boats tend to drift.
So what inspired me to write The Amazing Adventures of Thunder & Lily ? Truth is it was a dark thought that brought light to a kids book. I was watching the dogs play with the kids and wondered whether they would ever remember this (kids, not the dogs !). Am I trying to make time stand still ? I suppose so as I’d quite happily bonsai my kids if I thought they could stay this age forever.
Whatever it was there was a moment and I’ve tried to capture it. What will be your moment ?
It looked like a jumble of words. And it was. It came out in uncontrolled sentences, paragraphs and pages. Written on the scraps of paper to hand when an idea came to mind. It got mixed with the rates bill, kids lunch orders and the odd crossword puzzle.
It got lost in various drawers and was left, abandoned, without an ending for almost a year. One day I found Chapter 1 again, read it and cried. I carefully put it in a zip lock bag and went on a hunt for Chapter 1’s brother and sisters.
Laid on the dining room table it looked like it had felt in my head, unorganised but somehow organic. The chaos of the scraps of paper looked intentional, a bit like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Ah and yes the final piece of the puzzle is still missing.
So I set about typing it out on my computer, no editing for me ! Raw it was and raw it stays. Submitting this unborn love to an editor will make good fodder for another post and perhaps months of therapy.
I dont think you can control the chaos and the way it spills for the mind, I think this is an important lesson on writing your first book, control results in something that will not make you cry when you find the long lost Chapter 1.
Quitting work was the easy part, leaving the building was proving to be more difficult. With all due respect to The Eagles you can check out any time but leaving is not impossible it just requires persistence and a strong stomach.
The view from the 21st floor has proved a handy distraction for a while when mentally I knew the time was right to finally do something on my own. It turns out I am an “acquired taste” and best report to myself for a while.
So, to the book, or books.
This blog will follow my journey of attempting to have my book (books ?) published. It will follow the pain, joy and humour experienced in giving birth to a book.
Along the way I will gain inspiration from those who have gone before me, including those who failed to be published.
So as Glinda the Good Witch said when Dorothy asked where to start on the yellow brick road, “I find it best to start at the beginning”. So to the beginning…