Fact: Writing is a physical act. No matter how one writes, there must be some physical act that gets the words on paper. I think of all those folks who draft in long hand whole novels. I think of several friends whose bodies no longer allow movement and how they either dictate the words to a confidant or use a specially adapted keyboard. I think of my own fingers, first curled around the pen and then tapping, tapping, tapping. There is much going on between mind and hand (or mouth), and yet, the body is mostly still.
Yesterday, the stillness reached a breaking point and I couldn't keep my BIC. I confess that I did not draft. I did not revise. I did not look at the sickly speaker poems. Instead, I worked in the yard a bit, scheduled and got a hair cut, went to the farmer's market, and both read and watched the TV. It appears that Tuesdays have become my day of rest from the desk of the Kangaroo.
Last night in the nearly sleeping time, I was thinking about how I'd printed off the poems in A Fever of Unknown Origin on Monday and how I should probably read through all the poems today. I also remembered a blog exchange. I think it was with Molly Spencer, but for the life of me I can't find it now. One blogger friend (Molly?) mentioned reading some other blog in which a poet mentioned being at a writer's residency and being able to pin all of her poems up on the wall and then sleep with the draft of her mss. floating above her. At the time, I knew I wanted to do this but was fixated on the pinning part and couldn't figure out how to make it work in my house. I dreamed of putting cork over an entire wall but never followed through. Then, last night, just as I was falling asleep, I realized that I could use what I already had: my two sturdy bookcases and a roll of Scotch tape.
|* See note below|
I'm thrilled with this breakthrough, and I found myself taking lots of time with each poem, feeling the weight of each piece of paper in my hand and while not reading every word, skimming titles and knowing the essence of each poem, getting a feel for if the poems belonged the one next to the other. The pieces of tape might not be as easy to rearrange as pins, but I can still see that I'll be able to move the pages as necessary. This makes me happy. I feel a shift in the work for the remaining 10 days of this self-imposed homestead residency. I want to think of the mss. as a whole. I want to revise what was written earlier this month. I want to contemplate where other poems are needed. I want to be okay with knowing I didn't write a draft a day but that I was getting the work done regardless.
*What you don't see in this picture is the pile of junk I took off the top of the shelves and from in front of many of the books. That's all piled on the floor now, but also a good thing, as I'm sure it needs to be sorted and either used or recycled or what-have-you.