Changes/insecurities/the stumbling block of stubbornness/a manuscript

It has been almost exactly a year since I’ve updated this. Progress has been slow (writing wise). Okay, well not exactly– in a year I’ve had 19 poems published, written about 76 (give or take, not all publishable just yet but the vast majority I’m happy with, some need work, others are done as far as I’m concerned), I had a job I loved until that company fell apart at the seams (almost literally) and I’m still writing and trying to put together a chapbook.

Well, I basically already have, its title is now ‘What the Light Does to Us‘–  because I realised that light plays a part in a lot of these poems and it makes more sense as a title– and that is still subject to change, unless one of the competitions I’ve sent it to accepts it. Long shot. I’m still of the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that my work is a bit strange or a bit dark in theme. Then again, The Stinging Fly took one of my darker poems, ‘A Lesson in Needlework‘, for publication in their newly released Summer 2017 issue so what the hell do I know? It’s not the writer’s job to assess their own work, that’s what readers and editors are for. It was such a bumper issue with so many incredible writers, I’m still reading and re–reading it, so it was amazing to be a part of it. I might blog about it later.

Trying to figure out the line–up and placement of poems in a chapbook or collection is seriously daunting. At times I’m questioning my own judgement and opinion of several poems– do they serve a purpose in the over–all succession of poems? Is this one relevant? Does that one need a re–write? Of course, I’ve asked other poets I trust to look over them with a critical eye because though I do think I have a decent grasp of the work I’m handling, it’s so difficult to be objective. I have a disconnect between my being the poet and the poetry I write, as if in some schizo-affective way, I detach almost immediately after writing it. I’m not sure that’s the norm, in fact, from editing Anomaly, I find the opposite to be true: most poets are inherently attached to the work they write, often too much so. I feel like the mother who gives birth and sends it young out into the world, unworried, detached and with a shrug of the shoulder. That’s not to say I’m not passionate (read: utterly obessed) with being a poet, I am, I am driven by it, slave to it but at the same time, I feel the work on its own comes from me but emotionally, I detach quite easily. Surprising, seeing as most of it is heavily reliant on emotions but perhaps it burns out upon the page in the process of writing

The problem with asking for advice from these poets I know and trust is that the manuscripts I’ve handed them are all different, they’ve all changed over and over again. They continue to do so. The same poems, when re–arranged, almost tell a different story and then consider the fact I’ve written over 70 poems this year, not all of them good but the ones that I felt positive about have also gone in. Further changing the course and texture of the manuscript itself. There are five different chapbooks comprising what I feel are the most successful poems. Each one reads differently and sometimes I favour one, only to change my mind and favour another. It’s a headspinning business, poetry.

For a writer who constantly feels insecure of my grasp of my own work, sometimes that objectivity is badly needed. As a poet I’m good but I’ll never be great and I don’t aim for it because frankly, I don’t think I have great poetry in me. I have the best of the gift I’ve got and I can change and grow as a writer but genius is not in my make–up and I think as a writer, it’s good to admit that– I can be black and white, I can be stubborn and sometimes those traits stop me seeing paths to improvement. Occasionally they incur moments of enlightenment that surprise me but often they provide a stumbling block for which I must practice awareness.

I am stuck to writing because I can’t live and not write. It is as essential as breathing. Although sometimes I wish I’d been gifted with an ability with maths instead. Who knows, maybe in another life I’d have been an accountant.

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