Monday, June 7, 2010

Day One: Draft-a-Day

77 deg ~ clear skies, light breeze in the upper branches, bushes and lower limbs nearly still

Today begins an attempt to write a draft a day for 14 days.  My own mini National Poetry Writing Month, two months late, but there you have it.  I've been frustrated in not writing since school's been out (nearly a month now...sigh).  Yes, I've been reading a lot of poetry, as evidenced by my posts of late, but I wasn't getting the pen to paper and what was worse, I was making excuses for it.  Paperwork and laundry and floors that needed cleaning...which led to a back injury and a delayed trip up home.  Even as I simmered in frustration I knew I could have been writing throughout all of that (well maybe not the worst days of pain and medication).  So, after the trip to Iowa and resettling into my routine here, I decided on my 14 day challenge.  No excuses!

I even have a new journal to set things off on the right note.  I finished my last Moleskine a few weeks back and went down to WordsWorth, my favorite independent bookstore...just four blocks down the lucky am buy some more and right inside the door, I stumbled on a display of these amazing journals from a company called Two's Company (can't find a website).  About the same size as my preferred Moleskine and with blank pages!  Ever since I read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones when I was a young and innocent 18 years old, I've written in journals without lines.  It turns out I'm one of those people who need the room to roam.  I also have atrocious handwriting and sometimes it gets a bit on the large size.  Now, I find having to write on lined paper a total nuisance and rarely do so.  In any case, when I saw these journals were unlined, I did a little jig right there and proceeded to buy every version they had with birds on the covers: nine in all.  The back cover states both the common name of the bird (Red-whiskered Bulbul in this case) and the scientific name.  It also gives the region (nearly always Asia and/or Africa) and a brief description.  Totally cool for a bird lover like me. 

Happily, today's draft went so smoothly, so easily...scary!  Knowing I'd been away from the journal for a bit, I decided to use my favorite starting point.  I gathered a word bank, this time from Allison Titus' book, sum of every lost ship, which I'll be posting about soon (fabulous!).  I randomly jotted down strong nouns and verbs and tossed in a few adjectives.  Then I counted (48).  Using the random number generator at, I gathered the words into groups of 3, gaining a bit more distance from the original text.  Really with the second or third grouping I knew a poem was taking shape.  I drafted it in my journal...two pages of solid words.  Woo Hoo!  When I felt myself winding down from the inspiration point, I shifted to the computer.  The title of the draft is "Lament at the End of a Long Convalescence" (obviously inspired by real life events of late!), and with such a long title and such densely packed hand-written beginnings, I landed on couplets with longish lines.  There's too little vowel music for my likes at the moment, so I'm sure I'll be revising the dickens out of it, but I'm thrilled that I had something to say and that what feels like the skeleton of a complete poem found its way to the page today, rather than fits and starts of lines here and there.  Two things about the poem:
1. It centers around my recent injury and recovery

2. I first used a fox due to Titus' poems; however, we've had a recent influx of coyotes into our somewhat urban neighborhood, so I changed the fox to a coyote...much better for this poem, no offense to Titus. 

I know a lot of people post their drafts on their blogs and then sometimes take them away after a few days.  I'm just not that brave, and if I did post the draft, I'd probably forget to evaporate it.  A lot of journals are becoming even more regimented about what they consider "previously published" so I'll continue to opt to keep the drafts to myself.  As a sneak peek, here are my favorite lines at this time:  "........  There is salt.  // As in a refrain we hum.  As in thirst.  / As in what the body considers necessary."

Well, Dear Readers, this morning's drafting has made me a bit verbose and slightly dizzy.  Now, I'll be running those errands and I have a date with a good friend to see an exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center this afternoon.  Woo Hoo!


Anonymous said...

Those are promising lines! Thanks for sharing them. Beautiful new journal. And yes, all of us with an indie bookshop close by are exceedingly lucky!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Marie! Your comment got sidetracked in the comment moderation function. Ack. So sorry! Thanks for admiring the journal. It still makes me happy just to look at it.