Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Thoughts in Mid-July

I was hoping to make more progress than I did last week. For the past eight years, I have spent 10 days or-so of the summer out of town--a writing retreat, an MFA program alumni conference. I cannot afford anything like that this year, so I stayed home and tried to psychologically "induce" myself into a week of intense creative effort. It did not work. I am not sure why, and perhaps my time is better spent going forward at whatever pace I can manage than worrying about why I can no longer write five or six ambitious poems in one week. That pace may sound absurd, but I literally plan for such times. Writing is my "third job" (after law and teaching) but it is my first love. And right now, I simply do not seem to be able to manage such intensity; not this summer, not in this place.

At 55, am I too old to work as I have in the past? Perhaps.

Some things come more naturally now--a sense of my own voice, monosyllables, finding my way more surely to the final poem. Other things--subject matter, not repeating myself, writing more deeply, more spiritually, less and less about the self---these are challenges.

I love to be in the poem--for hours if I can be--and I only caught stray moments of that feeling this past week. I do not know what to make of this.

To be a poet--writing against, outside, or even deep within the dark belly of this culture, is a lonely and foolish task. Whether it matters is something we will never know in our lifetimes.

Onward.

7 Comments:

Blogger Psychoflowers said...

Hi, I am glad to hear I am not the only one who struggles, and you are way more experienced than me.

I think for me, it come in spurts and you can't control when that will be. It seems like my best poems are the ones that come naturally, not the ones there are for an assignment due the next week.
You are talented, you just need to be more gentle with yourself, and relax. It will come to you when it is meant to. (not trying to be a therapist here) I think it works like this for most of the arts like music, which I know more about than poetry.
Sooooooooooo, enjoy the weather, go to a museum, do something that has nothing to do with writing, and I bet a million dollars, you will be bursting with an fabulous poem within days. :-) Boy do I sound like a shrink, too many psych books for me lately. ha!
Please feel free to ignore this shrink advice, I am good at giving advice, but I can't apply it to my own life.

3:24 PM  
Blogger grh said...

By doing it I think we make it matter. Onward, yes.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Macy Swain said...

Steady on, Greg. I've been there, too, many times, and the ebb and flow of creative energy continues to both flummox and mystify me. I think 55 is a splendid age for a poet -- and even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment, your work suggests you're obviously just coming into your prime. Be of good heart.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Collin said...

Yes, steady on is a good way to put it. I have been thinking about going on some type of retreat, since I can't leave the country this year because I can't afford it. I do find I'm more creative when away from home. If I took a week off and sat in my apartment, I'd wind up eating too much and watching movies and reading all day, but do no writing of my own.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Charmi said...

Fifty-five isn't too old for anything, except sometimes speedos, depends.

I'm heading to The Keweenaw next week to attempt the solitude/writing thing. I'll post some pics from the monks for you.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I can't believe you ever wrote that intensely. I'm thrilled at more than a poem a month.

So forget about intensity and pace. You write. You are a writer. As long as you keep coming to the page, that doesn't change. And the poems will come.

In my incredibly humble opinion.

Be nice to yourself.

8:05 AM  
Blogger sam of the ten thousand things said...

My thoughts are - How you've worked in the past shouldn't be your focus, Greg. Write in the now. Stay with onward idea and the words will appear.

9:32 PM  

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