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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What To Do When You're Not Writing Poetry

Poets are not patient people.

Or so it seems to me. 

While writing--and especially while writing well-- poets tend to believe time can rearrange itself, that the earth is spinning on its axis with a happy hum, that the news of the day will wait like a patient puppy at the front door and that, in general, existence, itself, is distilled down to a concentrated form which is found, only,  inside verbs, nouns, comma, periods, line breaks and white space.

What poets do not seem to possess is a patient understanding of themselves in the world of the pre or post writing experience.

There has been much written about how to overcome writer's block. Etc. Etc. Etc. Yet I can't recall much discussion regarding that twilight state which lies somewhere between "I need to write; I am writing" and "I can't get a single word on the page."

Poets should look to the fiction writers for some instruction on what to do when not writing. Fiction writers tend to see the world as one gigantic imagination lab.

During the period between just-have-written and soon-to-be-writing--a state which is defined not by being blocked but rather one of collecting and recollecting images, words, thoughts--the etcetera of writing experience--the poets are staring at their shoes, feeling abandoned by their most profound impulse to write. But, given this same state -the fiction writers are observing--sometimes passively, objectively, sometimes interactively--the world as it approaches them.

Poets can learn from this state of imaginative collection of images, ideas, thoughts and emotions.

What did you see today that you have never seen before?

Was it that building that "magically" appeared on the corner near your house? Was it the square bit of glitter stuck to the side of your shirt? Was it the sad looking stranger in the supermarket? The knock on your front door?

Look outward. Make a list--without emotion and without judgement--of the small images, the small moments of your day.

Go ahead. Try it. See what happens.

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