I’ve completed week one of my blog! Hurray! It’s been a long week… Anyway, here is a reflection on my first week of writing, with a poem at the end:
I’m not sure what had got into me when I pledged to write and publish a story or a poem every day for a year. What on earth was I thinking?! All I know is that I wasn’t, really. The idea just fell into my head, or rose up from the deep – or something that felt a bit magical – a week before Christmas and before I knew it, I’d set up a domain and was ready to do it in earnest.
I knew it would be a challenge and a very meaningful one for me. Those who know me well know that I think about writing all the time, but rarely do any. They know that I talk about it a lot and beat myself up about it, too, but, still, rarely do any. I have been doing this for years. For as long as I can remember. I know it’s largely due to fear and to what Ira Glass refers to as ‘The Gap.’ Here’s a lovely 2-minute video where he explains what that is:
I’m not an absolute beginner. I’ve written for publication/ broadcast before: children’s books and adaptations and a couple of episodes of children’s TV. With the gun-to-my-head of a deadline or a commission, I’ve always managed to do the work and I’ve loved it. But what I’ve never done, until now, is commit myself to a regular writing practice. I’ve never found the time, or the whatever-it-takes to sit down and do it until I get as good at it as I’d one day like to be. I’ve never really written poetry and, in so doing, I thought a lot this week of the words of, I think, Gene Fowler: ‘Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.’
It feels like that sometimes. Painful. But like other painful things, if you sit with it long enough – really sit with it, no messing about – it gets easier. And, like other creative things, it’s joyful too. There are moments where it feels as though a word, a phrase, an idea, just drops into your head or rises up from the deepest depths of you and it feels as though something magical has happened. Like one minute there’s nothing, and the next minute you’re sitting there with drops of blood on your forehead looking at a poem about a cherry tree. There’s no feeling like it.
I’ve spent more time writing in the last week than I have in the last year. It takes time. And I don’t have a lot of that. People have asked me how on earth I’m going to fit this in around my full-time job, single-parenting and all the other projects I have on the go. Those things, as well as making time to be with friends and family are, of course, all non-negotiable. The writing will have to work around them. But I discovered this week that it can.
I’m someone who always has a song or a story or a poem or a quote floating around in my head. And I’m so pleased that my son, now seven, is the same. He turned down a glass of water the other day because it was ‘too old, and cold, and settled in its ways,’ quoting at me a line from a beloved Joni Mitchell song we’d been listening to in the car. Inspiration is everywhere and always here. What I’ve committed to is being open to it, to looking for it and listening to it, to capturing it and getting it down in some form before it evaporates.
It has meant, this week, waking up and writing down the first thing on my mind, thinking on the drive into work instead of listening to the radio, jotting down notes on my ‘phone in the supermarket, by the lifts at work, in the lunch queue, on the loo, spending time I’d usually waste scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram writing.
There will be times when the well will feel very dry, I’m sure. But I’ll still write something, even if it’s a poetry exercise from a book or a few lines inspired by something I’ve read. I’ve drawn a lot from my own life over this last week, but I’ll be branching out and, as time goes on, hopefully managing to write in voices which sound less like my own. There will be haiku for high days and holidays and there will be pieces that work and pieces that don’t, but I’ll be doing it, at least, finally. And hopefully raising lots of money for a good cause in the process: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/drivinginthedark. My first post, ‘driving in the dark’ got such a lovely response that I want to return to that at some point too. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far – your visits and follows and comments and friendship and all-round good cheer have given me heart and the will to go on.
And just in case you think I’m shirking by writing a reflection today rather than a poem, here you go. More gaps:
‘We lived in the gaps between stories,’ Margaret Atwood
Since resolving to do the unthinkable
And put myself out there each day
No – not like that; like this
Life has changed in every which way.
I’m a hunter, a gatherer
A seeker, the sought
Each day I come up with
A poem, a thought.
There’s magic each morning at breakfast
As I ponder the rhythm of toast
My drive to work is driven
By thoughts of which thoughts drive me most.
So we’ll live in the gaps between stories
We’ll dance to the sounds of the sea
We’ll sing to the music of mushrooms
And we’ll know that we’re finally free.