Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reflections at Halfway

Tomorrow marks the midway point in my Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. If you missed it, I am writing a poem a day for 30 days as a way to raise money for a non-profit literary press. The month is screaming past me but I must say, it has far exceeded my expectations. Going in, I didn't quite know what to expect. I knew there would be just a whole lot of writing and time channeling my words, but I've learned so much along the way too.

I've learned:

...that choosing not to do something because it looks hard is a cop out that might deny you a once in a lifetime experience. My first thought when I heard about this challenge was that it sounded like a lot of work and why would I want that pressure? At the same time though, there was something niggling at me whispering "just do it". So I did.

...that even on days when you're tapped out, if you sit down and grind it out, you can get something that may look like crap, indeed may be crap, but is at a minimum, a first draft for maybe something much greater.

...that if I make a commitment to something, I get sorta edgy when other things cut into the time I've set aside for that task. I actually look forward to the hour and a half I get to devote to writing these every night. I think this qualifies me as a sadist or a nut job, but who has time to think about such things?

...to look for new ways to format my work. Poetry styles vary from writer to writer, but like most poets I get tired of the same old thing (and I think people get tired of seeing things the same old way.) Besides, I think it stretches your creative muscles to push yourself to new things.

...that the other people going through the challenge are my biggest allies most days. We have a group chat message group on Facebook where we frequently go to throw stuff around and have tantrums. It's a bit like the psych ward some days, but I've grown to like going there every once in a while and throwing stuff around with the rest of the maniacs.

...that having a couple of close confidants makes most things better. I've hooked up with a couple from the group and we've talked through ideas, shared what we've liked about each others' works and just boosted each other up. It's a lot like the other room, just smaller, and we don't throw things.

...that feeling guilty because "I'm not writing nonfiction" is a stupid thought. My writing instructor once said that writing poetry makes you a better overall writer too. The more I write poetry, the more I've found this to be true. Description and plot is just as important in a 27 line poem as a 2500 word short story.

So, with a little over two weeks remaining, I'll press on. When things get bad or the block sets in, I'll go to the screaming room and throw stuff.

But for now, I'll be...

Blogging off

2 comments:

John L. Stanizzi said...

Hey, Jim! Yes, you nailed it perfectly. I hope all the people on our "team" take the time to read this. It's so true and accurate and cathartic!

Thanks, man.

One of the best things about this journey is hooking up with you.

Onward, Bredren. We're half-way......

Pax.

John

Jo Balistreri said...

This has become my reading before bed rather than a book. I look forward to it, and feel I'm getting to know the poets a little through their words. I like this particular blog very much. It's spot on.
Congratulations to all of you at the half-way mark.