After I posted last night, I emailed my friend Zoe and, in the communal spirit of our reading/critiquing of each other's work, asked her to slap my wrists if I didn't do my 15 minutes of creative writing today - and, as her comment on the post below attests, she assured me she would.
But my wrist remains un-slapped and a 1/6th of a tick against Resolution Number 3 is almost scored: for about an hour and a half this afternoon, I have been working on redrafting a poem to send in to a writing magazine competition. The closing date is the 15th February and the competition has a specified first line: As I gaze at the flames of the fire.
Don't worry - I winced, too, when I first read it, as this could easily end up in a cliched or cheesy poem; and, had I not already had something about 'fire' in my folder, I might've brainstormed so that I wouldn't submit anything half-hearted or obvious. Or I might not have, of course; I've already told you how I've been struggling with motivation. Anyhoo - thankfully, I'd written a poem ages ago called Arson, about how the 'I'* of the poem burns the words she has written for her lover now that they've broken up.
So out from the folder Arson came, ready to be tweaked and entered. And, bookmarking the competition pages of the magazine, has simply sat on the side over the last month, waiting for me to do something with...or not. But, mindful of last night's post, I made myself not log off after checking my emails and surfing for a bit (it's so easy to do when your eyes are sore of the screen, isn't it?!), and write.
I started by rereading, printing and critiquing what I'll call Draft 1 (in all honesty, that was probably Draft 6 or so of the original poem, but hey, who's counting!). Realising that I wanted to better chart the stages of a fire burning, I scanned my trusty Roget's Thesaurus and jotted down a list of words; I then did the same with words about writing, and came up with some flow-writing**. From this, I crafted two new stanzas and redrafted four previous ones.
The newly edited, Draft 4 Arson is printed and will cool its heels for a few days - from years of experience of writing (my own apprenticeship if you like), I've learned that distance is most definitely beneficial. Towards the end of the week, I'll look at again and when I'm happy with it, ask Zoe to read and critique it (she's already read Draft 1 thinking it was finished, so it'll be interesting to see what she thinks of how it's developed!). From that point, I'll be either ready or almost-ready to enter Arson into the competition, and to score a 1/6th tick off my New Year Writing Resolutions!
* People have an instinctive tendency to assume that whenever the narrator of a poem is 'I', it is, in fact, the story of the author; that the author of the poem is talking about themselves. This is often not true - 'I' is simply the First Person Perspective; it is a direction chosen for the purpose of the piece. Except here, actually; I don't mind sharing (just this once!) that 'Arson' was written from my experience of a break-up, about a boyfriend who also placed stock in words, who I had written poems about. While I didn't burn them, I did rip them up... Relax, dear reader - my anger and hurt is long exorcised, and I actually thank him, for he inspired what I've always believed to be a strong poem (and which achieved a 71 when I submitted it for uni coursework!!).
** This isn't a take-off of my party-piece dance to 'Low' by Flo Rida, as those who work with me will suspect (many a story to be told about Christmas parties there, but that's for another time!) - but is instead my description of writing down whatever flows, without consideration, punctuation or line breaks. No worrying, no editing, just flow.
You may not - at all! - be interested in reading Arson when it's finished, but just in case you are (well, you never know, and if you don't put yourself out there and pimp for readers, you'll never get anywhere!)... I'm sorry that I can't post it here on the blog (as that would count as 'published' in the competition world and so be ineligible), but if you would like to read it, post a comment on here or message me on Facebook, and I'll be pleased to email you a copy (which instead counts as if reading a borrowed book!).