I’m not spending a great deal of time at the computer at the moment – can only blame the marvellous good weather! I’m in admiration of those taking part in NaPoWriMo this month, such as Jayne Stanton. I do sometimes do the ‘start a poem a day’ thing, although I tend to do it alone and during months when there’s nothing going on to distract me!
Having said that, I’ve been writing and submitting. Some new work is emerging that feels fresh, and I’m enjoying the process. I think I’d been hitting my head against so many old poems for too long, and making a conscious decision to set them aside feels liberating. So, I’ve got six poems forthcoming in the summer across four publications, plus there are currently 14 more out to magazines and a couple of comps, and 4 pamphlet submissions. If nothing comes of the latter then I think I have enough new material & project ideas coming through to abandon this particular ‘pamphlet.’ I’m using quote marks because it’s possibly not one pamphlet, but the seeds of several. Or just the start of a collection. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I’ve been getting inspiration from a number of sources. I’m not a huge reader of novels, even though I used to belong to a book group and would do so again. But I can’t resist a good recommendation from a trusted source, and two I followed up recently were The Warden by Anthony Trollope and The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing. Poet friend Antony had suggested The Warden as an introduction to Trollope, and I wondered why I’d never read any before. Surprisingly modern themes, sly humour, and copious use of the much-in-vogue present tense. Loved it. And Doris Lessing – a real revelation. I raced through this book, a story and characters that really puts you through the wringer. So agonising it would feel trite to call it ‘tragic’. At times I thought I was reading Steinbeck. Where the heck have I been?
Then there are the websites that regularly get my mind jumping up and down. In a recent Brain Pickings, Maria Popova introduced me to Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway – “on reclaiming mercy and forgiveness as the root of self-respect in a vengeful world”. It’s the kind of fascinating read that I stumble on first thing and then can’t get out of bed till I’ve finished it.
And then there’s Dan Blank, a big thinker whose weekly email newsletter is probably the only one I actual read right through and have done so for ten years or more. His new book Be the Gateway is currently on my Kindle reader and giving me plenty to think about as regards writing ‘goals’ and refocusing on connecting with readers rather than ticking off ‘achievements’. A lesson I need to learn, but will I?
Other sources of ideas this month came from the Antiques Roadshow on TV, some NHS information booklets and the Wikipedia entry for Eddie Van Halen. Betcha can’t wait!