Here's a little peek at the process of writing a poem (Still: Books) to a theme (It’s up to you - what inspires you in 2020) for submission to a poetry journal (Not Very Quiet).
- get excited about a new (to me) poetry journal
- discover the theme and get sad; not excited about 2020 at all
- create some fun things (see Pocketry Almanack), meet first nephew (so squishy) and become inspired
- leave poem to last minute
- sit down to write poem and get stuck
- write a poem about being stuck
- get stuck again
- write out a list of what inspires me and a list of what I am interested in
- tart a poem about the element gold and get distracted researching it
- do other stuff (wash clothes, make dinner, clean bathroom basin)
- read a fantastic poem that sets my mind on fire (Connor O’Callaghan’s January Drought from the Poetry Foundation email newsletter)
- use the poem as a template to write a poem, shoe-horning in lists from 8 above
- dither about referencing original poem in my submission
- email poet mate to ask her opinion
- receive response - fears confirmed, must cite
- conscience salved, begin submission process on Submittable in spite of sense of impending doom (#letsgetrejected or #totrure or #whydoidothistomyself)
- children on verge of melt down. reluctantly shelve lap top
- listen to children
- get overwhelmed by heatwave, lie on the lounge room floor
- sneak away to library, press submit
I often fall into the trap of looking at a finished piece of art and seeing only the incredible end product. Of course there's no way to see behind the scenes of a poem (or any work of art for that matter) unless the poet invites you backstage to poke around in the props box and interview the actors. You can't see all the drafts, the tears or the tantrums. All you see is art.
As I was writing the poem I wanted to share on this blog I scribbled down the steps I went thought to create it. That initial list turned into a poem, which then turned into a zine which also includes some of the notes I had made while writing the poem along with the other poems I wrote before I could attempt the piece for submission.
My intention was to demystify the process of creation and invite you backstage to see how I wrote a poem to a theme. To share the messy and unpredictable nature of creativity. For me it was necessary to write a poem about how I felt about writing the poem before I could actually write the poem! In a way it was blasting the road bocks I had put in my way.
I also went down a couple of interesting side tracks before pulling myself back on the path. In hindsight I can see they were red herrings but at the time I wasn't too sure of the final destination and so the exploring and discovery were a necessary part of the process.
How do you deal with the vagaries of the creative process?