One thing I’ve found myself doing more as the years progress is making notes in the email app on my phone. I do it for poems, things I need to do, ideas for things to write, etc. At the start of the week I made some notes in an email draft for this weeks blog. It was mean to follow on from the post last week about the wonderful news from Red Squirrel. OMG, what do you mean you’ve not seen it. Get yourself back a week. NB, while I’m here I have to say thank you to anyone that messaged me, posted a comment or like on Facebook/Twitter. My Facebook posts are rarely as popular unless I put up a photo of Florence.
Anyhoo, where was I ? Ah yes, so I make drafts for things, a lot. It’s not a perfect system, a lot of the time I forget to write it down in notes. For example, I had another theme for today all neatly outlined by the time I got back from my run this morning, and this week I’ve come up with at least ten more titles to giveaway that are now sadly lost to the fog at the edges of my brain (NB- Fog at the edge, etc is now on the list).
There is a point and here it comes…
In the week when I’m actually prepared/have thought things through it strikes me as Sod’s law that something else comes along that compels me to abandon my plans.
A good poem will often reach inside of you and cause you to sat “Yes, that’s exactly it” even when it’s not precisely that. A good thread on Twitter can also do the same thing, and such a thing arrived today.
I was scrolling through Twitter as an act of displacement to avoid cracking on with some re-drafting and I stumbled across this thread from Tom Sastry. Tom is a relative late-comer to the Twitter, but by Jove has he taken to it like the proverbial avian to H20.
While I’m here I must also point you in the direction of his excellent poems, either by buying his Nine Arches collection, A Man’s House Catches Fire, or his Smith |Doorstop pamphlet, Complicity or at the very least reading this. Please, also go and see Tom read. He’s also a brilliant performer and reader of his work. I would be happy to be half as good as him in front of an audience.
I’m getting distracted again, sorry. Back to Tom’s thread. It may just be the most perfect example of the right thing appearing when you need it. I’d like to think of myself as an early career poet and so this caught my eye – especially as despite the sheer joy of last week’s news the realisation that while I have lots of time to spare before 2023 arrives, it also means I have loads of time to worry of I’m good enough/worthy enough. Over-confidence is not an issue, but I read on…
I’ve taken screen shots as I’m rubbish at embedding threads on here, but the link above should take you to it in situ.
There is a lot to unpack and unpick here. More than one blog post will allow. Particularly the point about different levels of permission to experiment—I certainly want to come back to that point, but I’m not even sure what I think/understand of the issue to be able to say anything remotely coherent about it now.*
* This is not a guarantee that anything that follows is coherent either.
I’ve kind of touched upon the going back to old drafts point before. Clearly Tom says it in a far more eloquent way to me, but it’s reassuring. His point but the endless creativity before you slow down is one I can attest to. I have boxes of poems and ideas to work with – many I suspect will never see the light of day, but I love the idea of the productivity, but as we see in Santa Claus: The Movie (Stick with me, there’s a point to this swerve) the character of Patch shows us that productivity doesn’t always equate to quality. Sadly, I can’t find the clip of the scene where Patch’s Toy-making machine malfunctions, but hopefully you know what I’m talking about.
I can, however, find a clip of The Super Duper Looper, so perhaps I should make some sort of valiant attempt to compare the difficulty of transforming all the productivity into something that is definable as quality/working out how to define the nebulous notion of quality to the trickiness of performing the SDL.
But I probably shouldn’t, so I just hope you enjoyed the clip. Dudley Moore is a long way from Pete and Dud by the stage.
What does ring true and hit home for me (and probably should for almost every poet) is the part towards the end where he talks about being wrong about your work, that idea of being dependent on the new poem high.
Yesterday I had some feedback from the lovely Nell Nelson as part of her January Feedback window for Subscriber – a service that is sadly winding up now. Of the six poems I sent her there was one that I was confident would be a standout. And I was half right. It was the one that she was the least positive about. I 100% agree with just about everything she says about it, and the other five poems, but the feedback on this one has rocked me. I have gone from thinking I have a straight–in-at-number-one success story on my hands to something that will be lucky to be included in a 20th anniversary boxset.
I am, however, also still a believer in this poem and the idea behind it, so I am girding my teeth and gritting my loins to go back to it and MAKE IT WORK.
Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Nell. And thank you, you.
- The Old Switcheroo
- Trickier than pulling teeth out of a Hen
- Hen’s Dentist
- Never an Oeuf
- Len’s Flare
- Len’s Flair
- Boutros- Boutros Svengali
- Planting Fig Trees
- Guerilla Gardening
- Scabby Horse
- Start With the Punchline and Work Backwards
- Big Dogs
- Fog At the Edges of my Brain
THE WEEK IN STATS
38.9k running – The 0.9 is very important.
20 days on the bounce of running. Although today I said 21, having a) counted NYE -which is fine and b) made up a day – which is not
5 Poems worked on – Cycle, Working Out, A Short Survey, I nearly died (although it has a new title at present), Editing The Arecibo Message. Basically 5 of the 6 poems I sent Nell.
3 poems fedback to a friend
1 Running Club inaugural evening. Spent with the people I normally run with because the rest dropped out.
18 days without cigarettes. We’ll see.
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green
READ, SEEN, ETC
Sightings – Kathleen Jamie – Finished this week, don’t know how it’s taken me so long
Becoming Faiake, Jo Reed Turner
Guabancex – Celia A Sorhaindo
The End – Gareth Writer-Davies
The Masked Singer, Succession (S2E5-10), The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Geese, Love Island
Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers
Adem, Seconds Are Acorns
Margo Price, All American Made
Mazzy Star, Seasons of Your Day, Among My Swan, So Tonight That I Might See
Laura Marling, Semper Femina
Lucy Dacus, Historian
Slow Club, One Day All of this Won’t Matter Anymore, Complete Surrender
The Verb, Publishing Podcast
and of course, The Archers…