I am so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open (I know, and it’s only 10.30), so I will keep this as brief as I can while simultaneously reporting on all the things that are on my sleepy mind…
First, the writing got done. It was my dedicated writing day today (swapped with the usual Thursday for work-related reasons), so again, of course it did, there can be no possible excuses. But it needs to be reported!
And what a great day it was… I turned yesterday’s notes, which I wasn’t sure about, into a whole, new, finished, poem. And yes, I think it works. Of course, it may not be the best thing I’ve ever written, but as a poem it does what I wanted it to, if you see what I mean (I’m thinking about Sylvia Plath’s observation that a poem can be a table or a chair or a pull-along duck… as long as it works, it’s fine). So that’s three brand-new poems in two weeks… I’m ashamed (but also thrilled) to say that’s more than I wrote (poetry-wise) in the whole of 2012. This writing daily lark needs to continue.
I also shoved at the Pembrokeshire coast path draft a bit more, and got a bit closer, I think. It’s hard work, partly because it’s long, and partly because I think it runs the risk of being description/feeling. I’m not entirely sure I know what it’s doing yet, but for now I’m just trusting that if I keep at it, it too will turn into something useful, whether that’s a table or a pull-along duck.
So one of the satellite effects of this writing daily thing is that, as momentum increases, so does my desire to get things out there. I’ve always found submitting poetry to competitions and journals about as painful as writing them in the first place – in part just because of the sheer boring-ness of it, and in part because, yes, I’m lazy and disorganised. But today I submitted four pieces to Magma magazine, and I’m working on my submission to the Faber new poets scheme – ambitious, yes, but why the hell not? It doesn’t cost anything to enter, like most competitions do. I’m also thinking about a submission to a new online journal, and two other upcoming competitions run by Mslexia. The likelihood is that none of these will actually come to anything… but just having a go feels empowering. And grouping all my poems together, in some sort of coherent order, has helped me identify which ones still have slight disfigurements that need fixing, as well as rediscovering some that I’d forgotten about/mislaid after The Great Laptop Theft of 2012.
I’ve been meaning to mention last Thursday’s walk for the last few days but just not had the time to fit it in… I’m tempted to put it off again today but know that if I don’t write about it soon all the freshness and zest will be lost. I’ll keep it brief: I live pretty close to the unbelievably gorgeous Sydenham Hill Wood, the largest remaining tract of the old Great North Wood, which used to stretch from Deptford to Selhurst. It’s now managed as a nature reserve, and it’s a really special place: it’s hard to believe you’re so close to central London when you’re there. Quite by chance I stumbled across an online mention of last Thursday’s evening birdsong walk, and as I’ve been getting into birds a bit recently (in the most casual way possible – mainly just keeping an eye out for them, and enjoying watching them in the trees around my flat) and generally just loving woodland, I went along. Although the wind meant that we didn’t hear a huge amount of birdsong, it was still brilliant. Learning to listen out for and identify a few birds just from their calls was pretty thrilling, and learning about the wood and its history from conservation officer Daniel Greenwood was fascinating. Plus being in woodland at dusk is pretty special by itself. There’s another guided tree identification walk this Thursday, and if I can manage the timings work-wise, I’ll be there. Highly recommended if you just happen to be in South East London.
Swifts weren’t on the menu, but here’s a piece I wrote about listening to them a few years ago, on London Grip.