Sunday, August 30, 2015

Draft Process: The Legacy of Our Sister Sleep

89º ~ feels like 92º ~ after a stretch of glorious weather in the low 80s, here we are again rising to the sweat-inducing 90s with high humidity ~ the hummingbirds continue ~ a neighborhood cat slinks through the yard next door, in and out of focus through the fence slats

This week was my first full week of teaching at UCA, so I'm trying to be patient with myself as I adjust to a new schedule. At PTC, I only had one face-to-face class, since all of my Comp I sections were online. At UCA, all four of my classes are face-to-face. This is taking quite a toll on me physically. I feel like I'm always hungry, and by the end of the week, I was physically exhausted (and my back went wonky yesterday). None of this is meant to be complaint. I know my body will adjust and so will my brain. That takes about three weeks for me, given past experiences.

FYI: I prefer teaching face-to-face because I can really get to know each student. Even after years of teaching online, I never mastered getting through to all of them.

Now, I was all set to ignore writing this week, and then I read Stephanie Vanderslice's tribute to Alan Cheuse, who left us far too soon. Stephanie is one of my new colleagues at UCA and I'm looking forward to talking writing and teaching with her as the years unfold. In any case, as I read this tribute to Cheuse, I was struck by his / Stephanie's "gargantuan word count in the sky" idea. This was a reminder to get back to the page, even if I only had 15 - 30 minutes in the mornings.

So, I renewed my effort. Things are a little more complicated this year as I've added some brief yoga stretching and 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation to my morning routine as I struggle with a seriously painful and unrelenting case of TMJ. At this point, I'm getting up at 5:15 (leaving the house at 7:00). It looks like I need to get up at 5:00 to extend my drafting time. All of this piles up at the end of the day to me being ready for bed by 7:00 p.m. Luckily, C. and I are hermits and this is usually not a problem.

But back to today's draft. I fiddled with words and lines each morning, in fits and starts. However, on Wednesday, some lines coalesced. Six lines in fact. On Friday, I added two more. Today, I drafted the full poem, all 14 lines (no it isn't a sonnet). If you had asked me a month ago, I'd have told you that I "don't work that way," that I can't write in bits and pieces and then bring it all together later on. Well, whadda ya know? Look what I just did. Here's the opening of "The Legacy of Our Sister-Sleep"

The moon, Sister, bright disc upon which
we spent our wishes, has reset itself to zero.

The poem goes on to be both memory and current accounting. It seems I'm stuck on addressing "Sister" in my drafts at the moment. Let me say that I actually have two sisters, whom I love and am thankful for; however, this "Sister" in the poems has come to stand more broadly. I do think of my sisters, but I also think of the relationship my mother has with my aunt. I think of women friends I have who have come to be as close to me as sisters. So, the poems broaden out, I hope.

The process of this week does not fit my ideal, but it is a process and it netted one cohesive draft. That deserves a Wahoooooooooooza (and a huge "Thank You" to Stephanie).


Molly said...

Hooray for a new draft, and so sorry to that the TMJ is still bothering you. Nothing like lasting pain to drag a body down. I'll be up with you at 5:00 in solidarity, putting my pen to the page.

Sandy Longhorn said...

5:00 a.m., friend, let's do this!

Kathleen said...

I love these lines and the idea of the Sister/s...! Wishing you well as you continue to adjust to new schedule, life changes. (I've been adjusting for 6 months or so, and am still.) Yoga is good.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the note of encouragement, Kathleen!