2 Years Today!
21 Wednesday Nov 2012
No tags :(
How serendipitous that today, I’m finally able to get into my blog after a long quiet spell which somehow also mysteriously de-activated my original login settings. First thing to do was of course clean up all the junk comments that had accumulated since the summer. But all is well, and I’m so glad I can do this again!
Also, it is virtually the eve of Thanksgiving, and I’ve emerged (I hope mostly) victorious from tackling a few pressing items at work, including: my share of online course catalog edits (the university’s in the last phase of transitioning away from print catalogs and so we have just oooodles of entries and course descriptions to check and double check), getting most of my program’s course schedules lined up for next academic year, and doing spring 2013 registration advising for 30+ graduate students. I even got most of the Thanksgiving food shopping done this weekend, plus the family here got to attend Sunday night’s joint performance of the East Carolina University Orchestra (my third oldest daughter is in it) and the Governor’s School for the Arts Orchestra, at the Sandler Center in VA Beach.
But even better, today I have real reason to blog about something: today is the two-year anniversary of my writing (at least) a poem a day!
As these things usually go, I hadn’t intended to do a daily poem “project” when I first wrote this poem in response to Dave Bonta‘s Morning Porch post on November 20, 2010. But the experience of making a clearing, right then, right there, and dropping everything in order to sharply focus on nothing else but the immediate goal of writing a poem within a brief window of time, proved to be exhilarating. I kept coming back, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I wrote most of my daily poems on the average between 30 to 40 minutes; however, as Dave eventually allowed me a little more leeway with posting and editing access in the months that followed, I found that I could look forward even more actively to that time of day (I don’t pre-set it) when I knew I could make my way to the poem-of-the-day, sit down, and write it. Eventually I found myself going to the WordPress template and setting up the requisite tags and categories and hitting “save draft” the first chance I got. Then I would go about the day’s business, which includes any of a number of consistent things: keeping office hours, conferencing with students, attending meetings, doing administrative stuff on my work computer, picking up my youngest daughter (and sometimes, her best friend) from school, starting her/them on homework while deciding what to put together for dinner, taking same daughter to music lessons, running back out in the car to pick up the hubby from work (we both work in the same university though he isn’t an academic), on certain nights handing over car and daughter to him so he can go home while I teach my 7-9:50 pm class, getting back home, having dinner, doing some kitchen cleanup and checking on supplies for the little girl’s school lunch… You get the picture.
Truth to tell, during the academic year, during the school week, I’ve found myself writing my daily poem mostly toward the very very end of the day, after I’ve eaten and while I’m nursing my coffee or tea before I have an evening bath or head straight to bed. While this might sound structured, and while it’s true there is a sort of framework built around and by expectation of certain repeat events, I can tell you my days are not seamlessly organized. There’s always a wrench being thrown in there somewhere, and a lot of improv goes on behind the scenes. During the weekends, and certainly in the summer and during the holidays, my rhythms are also affected, and thus they also influence the times I might pick for writing during the course of the day.
And while I’ve written most of these poems on my MacBook Air (last year it was my old Macbook Pro which I gave to my daughter when she transferred to ECU at the beginning of the fall), I have also composed some poems on my phone, and on an iPad. The latter two are quite handy for those moments when inspiration strikes, on the road; but I still prefer the ease of the regular keyboard layout over the scrunched interface provided by both phone and touchscreen keyboards.
Two of the most important things I’ve learned from my daily writing practice over the last two years have included the following (and the learning, if I might stress, continues): letting go (of the fear of the blank page, of the ego, of opinion, of criticism— Who do you think you are and why are you writing? Who do you think you’re writing to or for? Why do you think others will want to read your crap?); and just using that brief, blessed time to find a way to tune out whatever noise there is, outside or inside, so you can drop quickly down into that part where the you might find the poem and the poem might find you. Poet Marly Youmans asked me a while ago to say a little more about my process(es) in this daily writing practice; and Dave Bonta and Kristin Berkey-Abbott interviewed me by phone in spring 2011, and our conversation is available here as podcast.
Perhaps ninety percent of what I’ve written isn’t very good. Perhaps a few poems have promise. But what blows my mind is that I’m writing: writing every day.
And that I have 730 (says Dave, who counts better than I can) poems thus far to return to and revise, if I so choose, is also a pretty astounding idea.
Poet Ellen Wade Beals recently featured me on her blog, and asked what some of my favorite poems were from this daily writing practice. You know how hard it is to answer a question like that! So naturally, I picked a few. (There is also a link there to a curated writing prompt that I contributed at the invitation of Iris Law for The Lantern Review blog.)
In the course of this daily practice, I’ve “met” so many new friends who are smart, funny, inspiring, wise, and incredibly generous— You remind me of how good it is to have company on the road!
Wholehearted thanks, Dave, for letting me hang out at your porch; and for archiving my poems on your Via Negativa site.
Postscript: Out of these 2 years of daily writing, I have been able to cull and polish poems that I’ve now pulled into three— yes, count ’em, three— new manuscripts, which I have been sending out since the summer. One of them has just been picked up by a publisher.