Day Fourteen: Dear Reader, we've reached the finish line! Woo Hoo.
Last night, I noticed a photography book I had purchased back in April but hadn't had time to really delve into. I placed it on my desk with the intention of it serving as my inspiration for today's poem. That's a bit more premeditation than I usually resort to, but I knew today would be my last day and the temptation to skip the writing would be even stronger than yesterday.
The book is Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild by Michael Forsberg with essays by Dan O'Brien, David Wishart, and Ted Kooser. The University of Chicago Press published this in 2009. Knowing that many people have differing definitions of the plains and the prairie, I first checked this book out from the public library to see if it had anything about Iowa in it. The book is divided into three major sections: the northern plains, the southern plains, and the tallgrass prairies. The last third of the book does indeed contain information on my homeland, so I went ahead and invested in it. I'm glad I did. Forsberg's photography is amazing, and the quality of the production is worth the price tag on the book. The essays are rich and nuanced, well-written, too.
But what it's all about today is the poem. I started by flipping through the book and reading the captions that accompanied the photographs and skimming the essays for now. Every once in a while a phrase would sing out to me (i.e. "following the prairie bloom" and "kettles of Sandhill cranes") and I'd jot it down in my notebook with an attribution if I took it from one of the essays. Eventually, I drafted six lines based on a picture of Sandhill cranes roosting on the Platte River during their migration. Sadly, these never rose beyond pure description. There was no heft to them.
So, that's that. I now have 12 drafts to show for my two weeks of purposeful writing. This is the first time I've ever imposed an assignment like this on myself. It makes me wonder. I've spent lots of my writing time in the past drafting lines and crossing them out and not producing anything, happy to come up with a viable draft once a week. What would happen if I imposed this assignment on myself each time I sat down for writing time: no email, no blogs, nothing else until you get a draft on paper. I still worry about the material being forced. I also will need revision time and time to read more, which this drafting has cut into. As always I come back to balance...something it seems I'll always be searching for in every area of my life.
A huge THANK YOU to all of you, Dear Readers, for taking this journey with me and providing your support. I probably could have done it without knowing you were out there, but I bet it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun, and I might have drifted off the plan more easily with no one there to hold me accountable.