Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Penultimate day

This little experiment is almost over.

I can't say it's been what I thought it would be. On the one hand, it plays to my lazy strengths. How easy it is to turn out something with a flash, a fillip here and there that might trick the reader into thinking something great is happening, then excuse its shortcomings by saying "Oh, that old thing? I just dashed it off..." That skill got me through a dozen and a half years of school and a career as a journalist. It's ever so much harder to buckle down and aim for the heavens. (Yes, I know: mixed metaphor. Unless there's some kind of weapon that takes buckles. Perhaps a really fancy slingshot designed by Michael Kors?)

It can be humbling, even discouraging, to see page after page of one's middling, unfinished work up there for potential public consumption. What I need to do next is take it and see what I can find to work on further.

I have not developed better work habits, although I've been faithful to the project, and that's an accomplishment I'd like to make into a habit. I guess I envisioned setting aside some period at the same time every day, when my schedule permitted, to Think Poetic Thoughts and write something. That hasn't happened. Some days I've put a lot of work into the draft; some days I haven't. Some days there's been satisfaction or even joy in the attempt; some days, not so much.

I do look back and go "Wow, thirty-some poems." The quantity impresses me.

And it matters a lot to me that I've actually completed, or nearly completed, what I set out to do.

Now tomorrow's gonna be tricky, because I'm headed to JazzFest in New Orleans on a very early plane. I don't reckon I'll be finishing with anything stupendous. But I'll show up, at least.

2 comments:

Irene & Bill said...

Pam, it seems that the period of time you've been setting aside every day for this work is that period between 12 midnight and 2 am.

Enjoy JazzFest!!

Irene

Pam said...

You're right; that's often when I do it. I work best when I'm sleep-deprived or sleepy.

I went to bed sometime after 3 a.m. and got up at 8 today. I had the latest poem--the one about my father--in my head as I was falling asleep, but I knew I couldn't get up and write it then. And right now I'm sorely in need of a nap, which may be why it was so easy to write.

A fellow student in one of my workshops wrote a poem in which she mentioned "the hour of the mouse." She said it was a Chinese or Vietnamese zodiac thing; that each two-hour period has an animal assigned to it, and that "the hour of the mouse" is between midnight and 2 a.m.

(Huh...and I was born in the year of the rat. Go figure.)

Thanks for writing.