NaPoWriMo 2018 & Camp NaNoWriMo have come to an end. My Camp NaNoWriMo goal for April was 30 poems to match the intent of NaPoWriMo. I validated on April 27th with 31 poems. I find this disappointing. In previous Camp NaNoWriMos, I always increased the goal. Most of the past Aprils, I was writing three to four poems a day. There even days with as many as eight poems (much like during NaNoWriMo). This April, however, I was lucky to put forth one poem with the rare second poem happening.
Overall, I am happy that progress happened with Mourning & Melancholia (16 for 36/100), Altars & Avatars (15 for 15/100), and Written & Whim (4 for 4/100).
This NaPoWriMo featured the posting of works to Instagram as well as some technical glitches which led to me posting several days at a time rather than every single day to this blog, Twitter, my Author page on Facebook, and Instagram. It was rather annoying. While I did like the readership that seemed to increase due to my use of Instagram, I remain uncertain about it.
On April 20th, I experienced Cradle of Filth, Jinjer, and Uncured. Post-concert depression did hinder my writing progress unlike with prior concerts I had attended. The reason for such eludes me. It was a fabulous concert and I did enjoy myself immensely even if my legs did not. Fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome do not make good concert-going companions.
April was light on other artistic pursuits too which left me feeling a bit at loose ends. May May bring more creativity and inspiration.
As I complete Glyph & Grey and 2017 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the past few years.
The first poetry book I ever published was The Heart of Autumn on September 13, 2011. The first poetry book of 100 poems I published was Smoke & Spirit on October 9, 2012. I started writing Smoke & Spirit in August 2011 along with Flare & Fetter. Since their publishing, I have published 13 other 100 poem books of new work, 4 other smaller books of poems I wrote prior to 2011, 5 collected works, and 16 chapbooks.
From August 2011 through today (and the completion of Glyph & Grey), I have written 1515 poems toward stand alone poetry books which roughly averages out to 288 poems a year. I have also written another 300 or so poems in attempts at novels in verse and other poetic styles. One of these days, those poems might come out to play but for now, they sit and wait for me to decide what their fates will be.
While all the poems are personal to me in one way or another, Flare & Fetter remains one of the most personal books as it was written while I was “forced” to confront significant issues with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This condition and other issues do play out in other books and their poems but not in the same way.
The most challenging book to write was Hallow & Hearth. I wanted to give myself a writing challenge, and it delivered fully. I never expected letter H would give me such problems because it only applied to the titles. For a long time though, it and some personal crap stifled my creativity and I did not write. When I did write, H was very easy to deal with in short bursts of awesomeness.
The quickest book to write was Passion & Prudence. I wrote its 100 poems in 30 days as a creative endurance challenge. I continue to be amazed that I did so well. The poems turned out fantastically. My brain did feel like ooze for awhile after I was done but it was worth it.
My absolutely favorite book continues to be Russian Hymns, a collected work of poems from several books. These poems were inked to and/or involve a fictional character I had often dreamed about nicknamed The Undertaker aka Zephyr. I still dream of him from time to time but nowhere to the extent I use to. I have no idea why he is such a vivid creation in my dreams. Supposedly, the faces we see in our dreams are faces we have seen before. The Undertaker’s entire physical form is very precise in my dreams but I have absolutely no recollection of ever seeing such a face or encountering such a person.
Questions: What is your writing routine? Do you have a writing space?
Answer: I write in the mornings. Not because I am a morning person – far from it – but because I know I will get distracted by other things as the day progresses and I will forget I need to write. It isn’t uncommon for me to go back to sleep after I’m done writing in the morning because ugh, mornings. Sometimes, I do write in the evenings without issue especially if I am at write-in or I’m struck by a really good idea. I try to write everyday but that rarely happens unless it is NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, or NaPoWriMo. Something about the deadline is very motivating toward me getting my butt out of bed and have focus on writing rather than sleeping. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops writing, either with paper and pen or on my laptop, as I am typically most productive away from home since there are fewer overall distractions. When I write at home, I use to have a desk setup for work/writing purposes but over time, I have found it too restrictive so now, I write on my laptop from a small table next to the sofa or I write in a notebook while lying in bed. When the weather wasn’t unpleasant in recent evenings, I went out with a notebook and wrote at the picnic table that was installed in June at my apartment building. I find that enjoyable and will continue to write there as weather and neighbor usage of the space allows. Anubis does not enjoy this evening writing venture outdoors without him. On the fourth evening of my writing time out there, he discovered my whereabouts. (The bedroom window overlooks the yard space with the table.) He spent the entire hour and a half meowing intermittently and glaring at me – this from a cat who is practically mute. Never had my writing been met with such judgement, disdain, and disapproval. Anubis now just glares at me until I look at him then he meows his displeasure. Sorry, my indoor-only feline overlord.
Question: Who is the ‘he’ and who is the ‘she’ in your poems?
Answer: This answer largely depends on the context of the poem and the reader’s perception. Some poems – especially those written early on – do have a specific person attached to them. The poems which came to make up Russian Hymns are about a fictional character named Zephyr. Unlined & Undertakers and Zephyr & Zinc pay homage to Zephyr as well. A few poems after Russian Hymns, Zephyr & Zinc, and Unlined & Undertakers also reference him. Typically, these later poems make note of hymns. Why he sings hymns remains a mystery to me. Zephyr, at his core, is not a nice person and only gives the illusion of being wholesome, loving, better than he is. In some ways, he has evolved to be the general meaning of ‘he’ in a lot of poems. There are times where I think Zephyr has always been ‘he’ but grew to be more of a solid entity then returned to a more incorporeal state of existence as words and emotional needs are fickle. Predominately, ‘he’ and ‘she’ are a reference to creativity or to some personification of a harbinger of dying/death. Again, which is which depends on context and perception. I am not always sure myself and I wrote the poems. I am certain there are times where ‘he’ and ‘she’ are a direct reference to death but I can never seem to pinpoint the exact poems in which this occurs.
I did not mean to disappear. Responsibilities landed elsewhere for awhile. Far, so far, away from writing and the creative drive I hold so dear. As I type this, it is 1am. I should be sleeping but my neighbors are decidedly obnoxious – the downside of living in an apartment – and my mind is busy contemplating what to do with an idea. An idea that was once applied to a potential verse novel. This novel died a most horrible death in the long run because of flaws with the world building, character building, and lack of a true antagonist. It was my first attempt at taking my very organic spur of the moment poetic writing style and turning it into something structured. Parts of it went well. Other parts…not so much. I learned a lot about myself as a writer and as a poet from this process.
I considered taking it apart. Reusing some pieces, discarding the rest, yet this seemed like the wrong route to take. Starting over entirely seems to be the most logical way to approach this. It seems to be paying off thus far. The idea has a few antagonists now, and the world sits on a more reasonable foundation & timeline. The characters need more fleshing out as far as their goals and motivations are concerned. Overall, I like the changes. The core concept is still the same as is the two main characters and their ultimate ending. Everything in between, concept wise, is much stronger than in the previous incarnation.
I also ruminated on what to do with the verses of the prior work. I loathe the concept of discarding them entirely. A large portion of them are very beautiful poems. I won’t lie – there are some really horrible poems in there too. I think the good and beautiful will see the light of the day soon as their own book because it seems wrong to keep them in the dark.
For now, I’m attempting to establish my focus on taking this better conceived core idea and turning it into a novel of some kind while also working on Hallow & Hearth. April, June, and September are becoming strong contenders for months that will be a pain in my behind. Trying to be optimistic that I’ll be able to keep some kind of creative momentum going during them while being extremely focused & productive in May, July, August, and the remainder of 2016.