In writing a poem I usually know what I want to say and how to say it, before I start. This involves thinking, planning, editing. During the past week, however, I had a different experience.
I started writing a poem to present at our monthly poetry group, Jozi House of Poetry, with the theme ‘new beginnings’. Pressure to produce something made me sit down to work. I wrote the first line, stolen from a random list in my diary, ‘God, mythology, creed’. I chewed the back of my pen, then another line popped into my head. Dutifully I wrote it down.
This happened for the entire poem, not being conscious of direction or theme, just writing what came to me, regardless.
After the last line I had no idea what the poem was about. But on reading it, I liked it. It turned out to be one of my better poems.
That made me think that creative control isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. We are so steeped in writing advice and technique that it can stifle the process. Sometimes you just have to let go and welcome the muse.
How do you write poetry? What is your process? I would love to hear from you.
Wow, what a good start to the new year. The proof copy of my book arrived this morning and it is looking good. I’m looking forward to the launch in South Africa in April.
In the meantime I have to make a list of everything I want to do. First should be building the characters and story of my next novel. I’ve done some research (enough to get started) and will continue researching and writing with the goal to finish the first draft by September.
I’ve been reading up on what other writers have achieved in 2016 and their plans for this year. One writer said that she published five books last year. Five! I’m envious but at the same time I know that I won’t be able to do that. I need to think and read while I’m writing, a slow process.
I also want to look for an illustrator for my children’s book.
Next will be a workshop with Lydia Yuknavitch in May. I’m excited and scared. She is such a great writer and putting myself in the company of great writers awakens my chronic insecurity.
This year I want to submit more to literary magazines and competitions. Hopefully I can draw up a schedule and write new content. Yuknavitch’s workshop should produce good stories (I hope).
What are your plans for 2017?