The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Archive for June 2018

A Transition

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My journals are dry.  All of them:  my standard 9.5″ x 6.5″ spiral notebook for all-purpose journaling, my hardbound 8.5″ x 11″ journal for drafting poems, my micro-sized seed journal, my slightly larger bedside journal, and even the thin, floppy number I keep in my car (journal much?!).  I constantly tell my students that if writing is water, your journals are the well.  Keep your well full, and your writing life will prosper.  So how is it that my well is dry, but my writing is prospering (found out this week that I’m getting something else published, but more on that later)?

It’s complicated.  Just like every other damn thing regarding writing.

A recent snap of my journals. I use a Cannon Metaphorical camera.

First, my writing routines were disrupted last fall when Garrison Keillor was called out for not keeping his hands to himself.  Why does that matter to me?  Because Keillor ran The Writer’s Almanac, which has been a part of my writing life ever since I became intentional about my writing life.  I got a poem each day in my email, mostly blue-collar poems that promoted the philosophy that poetry should be for the everyday Joe Sixpack and Sally Housecoat.  Poems that brought people into poetry instead of pushing them away.  Poems that were easy to put ones feet down within and that showed simple but powerful flourishes of craft.  I was seeing TWA poems every day, saving some of them for transcribing later, and using them as content for my Creative Writing classes.  And then I was writing those types of poems, and even if they weren’t getting published, they were sharpening my writing skills and in some way feeding whatever else I was writing.  They were pretty damn important, Mr. Keillor, so shame on you for victimizing others and losing The Writer’s Almanac.

Without TWA, my writing imagination was not being fed consistently.  Hence I wasn’t journaling as much, and wasn’t developing ideas very consistently.  At least not on paper.  If you ever get into writing, you’ll hopefully find out very early that you never really stop writing.  You’re always developing something in your head, and a lot of what you develop in your head stays there.  Do you have to write those things down in a journal?  Well, no, you don’t.  But I habitually did because to me journaling was tangible evidence that I’m doing my due diligence as a writer.  Journaling was therapeutic.  Journaling proved my legitimacy.  Proving it to whom?  The inner critic.  I guess I always thought that if I can prove that I’m always writing, then I can call myself a writer.  But I guess that this year I’ve found that getting published also means that I can call myself a writer.

The loss of TWA is not disastrous, per se.  There are other poem-a-day services of which I have availed myself, though they don’t strike the same note with me that TWA did.  I’m still getting poetry everyday, but I’m seldom excited about it, saving even fewer of the poems, and transcribing less.  I can dig back through the TWA archives, which thankfully are available, but that requires more effort than merely opening up my email and processing whatever was in front of me.

It’s interesting to note, too, that my most recent flash fiction never saw my journal.  I started typing that sucker out the moment it hit me, and then did the standard drafting and revising along the way until I got it where I wanted it.  Skipping the journaling phase with a published piece has been so rare in my writing life that I can count the occurrences on one hand, and I’d still have fingers to spare even if that hand was short a few fingers.  But what’s liberating about working sans journal is that I can type a helluva lot faster than I can write, so I’m not losing my thoughts along the way so much.  And my handwriting is so god-awful that I don’t struggle to move words from my journal to a word-processing document.

I could also be talking here about the fundamental differences between writing in different modes and genres, and maybe that’s what I’m discovering.  Poetry should be slower and more drawn out in process because poems are such exact things.  There needs to be a lot of deliberation.  Flash fiction focuses on short, explicit episodes, so I guess they can be hashed out rapidly and then re-approached for shaping and refining afterwards.  Hell, I don’t know.  I write what comes to me, and try to write it as best I can.

I am also deliberately mindful of my writing habits, and when they change, it’s worth thinking about how and why.  It’s hard to process changes like this because I think most every writer has their methods and clings to them desperately, telling themselves this is what works for me.  I sure as hell do that, but now I wonder if my methods could work better if I used different methods.  Dunno.  But I guess I’m going to find out.

Written by seeker70

June 15, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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