For the last couple of months, I’ve been carving out a minimum of half every weekday morning to work on my poems. I’ve enjoyed the time to focus (albeit initially with a slight annoyance that it took me 6 months of lockdown to get into this rhythm, but I’m over that now) and to a degree, I’m reaping some of the benefits in the sense of having written at least 5 poems I’d say are among my best (so far) and have revisited some older ones to improve them. One of the newer ones, while declined by a big mag (and editor/poet I have long been a fan of), came very close to publication.
Adding to that a lovely day yesterday and today celebrating my wife’s birthday, and coupling all of that with getting two of the five reviews I have to write out of the door this week has meant that a stressful and mentally demanding week has, on balance, been a good week.
However, it was when Rachael came upstairs to my little office midweek that the best bit of the week happened. She saw me writing a draft of a poem I’ve had floating about for years. I thought it was done but I went back to it to see if I could get it ready in time to submit to a web journal that had a limited submissions window. I didn’t manage to finish it in time, and the poems I did send were declined this week too, but that’s by the by.
Rach came up, placed a cup of tea by my notepad and saw the handwritten draft with my near illegible to anyone other than me handwriting on. When I draft I use stress (/) and unstressed (\) symbols to make sure I’m on the right track. It helps keep track of syllable counts (other methods are available and perfectly valid, of course). She looked at the scratches and scribbles, the crossings out and the symbols and declared in her most-matter-of-fact-way, “You just make marks on the page”.
I guess because the act of writing itself is very unglamorous, all that staring and then scribbling, then crossing out and staring some more, all that “burnt toast as Margret Atwood has it in the intro to one of her Selected Poems ( I have posted about it before, but can’t find it the noo), etc make it hard for a people to get a sense of what’s going on when we’re writing.
I know Rach is a cheerleader for my work and is pleased when I have any kind of success, but beyond that, she’s very hands-off. And I don’t for one second believe she (Rach, not Peggy Atwood) was being dismissive of my work, although for a second it sounded that way, however it did get me wondering how other people’s significant others see their work and/or process.
Do they take an interest, do they walk in while you’re working, do they leave you be to do it?
THE WEEK IN STATS
28k running – Slower week, but needed after last week’s excesses…
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
2 x rejections: All good.
3 poems worked on. Family Secrets
0 poems finished: See above
3 rejections: AOP, Spectator and Frogmore
2 Reviews written and submitted. One published
17 days without cigarettes…I think. Certainly haven’t this week. Weird, barely even thought of it. Maybe, just maybe this is the time…
1 Podcast Published The latest ep of Grandbag’s Funeral. It’s a good one where we talk about Short Cuts, Tremors and Big Trouble In Little China
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green
We’ve All Been Ether
An Explosion In A Diary Factory
Maria Taylor: Dressing For The Afterlife
Matthew Stewart’s review of Maria Taylor’s Dressing For The Afterlife
Declan Ryan: Fighters, Losers
Brian Eno: Film Music
Pearl Jam: Backspacer, Binaural, Big Fish OST, Gigaton, Lightning Bolt, Merkinball, No Code, ST, Riot Act, Singles OST, Ten, Vitalogy, Yield, Live in New York 01.05.16
The Kandinsky Effect: ST
Mazzy Star: She Hangs Brightly
This Is the Kit: Off Off On
Kitchens of Distinction: Folly
Jonny Greenwood & VA: inherent Vice OST
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three-Sided Dream In Audio Colour
Lucinda Williams: Happy Woman Blues
Doves: The Universal Want
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
El Ten Eleven: Tautology 2
Margo Price: That’s How Rumors Get Started
Erland Cooper: Hether Blether
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Reunions
Lou Rawls: Silk & Soul
Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladders
Lake: RoundelayNadia Reid: Out Of My Province
Taylor Swift: Folklore
Sons of Kemet: Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do
The Boys S1 E5-8, S2E1
Battlestar Galactica S4E 4-5
R’s birthday presents
Under The Radar
A part to fix Flo’s curtain rail