‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour
I was honoured to be invited to this blog tour by the excellent Cathy Bryant, her Comps and Call on the Write Out Loud site steel dozens of poets to send their pieces out and there are many successes on the back of this. Here is Cathy’s blog: http://cathybryant.co.uk/news.html
Amidst planning, promoting and compering of the Quiet Compere Tour, I have been squirreling some time to write, though I am not sure how and this time will be massively curtailed for a couple of weeks, while I work through Frank’s list of things to do at Easter. This includes be Darth Vader, Got to the dentist, buy tomatoes, build castles, make models of spaceships, bake, do experiments, go to the park and a dozen other things he will remind me of when we haven’t done them. I will love every minute and will finish Easter feeling exhausted, with a messier house (if that is possible and the two toy boxes I am planning to purchase over the holiday are not used) and a few seeding poems.
- What am I working on?
I am a quarter of the way around an Arts Council-funded tour of the North (with a jaunt into Birmingham) as The Quiet Compere. Organising, performing and promoting. I am making exciting new connections and hearing new performer’s voices, accents, themes and styles every month. This is feeding into my work and I am also writing a blog about the event and the experience of being in each city. Blogging is new to me, apart from through NaPoWriMo prompts. I completed NaPoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and enjoyed the challenge of staying within the prompt’s parameters and writing poems this way 30 days in a row. I don’t usually write a piece every day I found that out of the 30, 10 were pretty much complete and 10 had something I wanted to work on, the other were just waffle that may become a poem, or not engaging enough for me to want to continue with. I am enjoying the more leisurely pace of 52 and the chance to work on a pieces before posting and then have constructive feedback on your 4th or 5th draft. These types of groups are essential, especially for people who don’t or can’t get out to workshops and receive feedback from other poets and writers. I run writing workshops in Chorlton and I find the ratio is about the same for pieces that come from my prompts. Though I prefer to workshop from other people’s prompts, because even if you try to ignore your prompt until the workshop, it is not as fresh to you as it is to the attendees. This is why I often like to use random prompts (such as pulling a line of poetry from say Shakespeare’s Hat) or a photo or a humorous tweet or an invented form of poetry found on social media.
2. How does my work differ from others of it genre?
Writing as a mother, with a scientific background, I find my pieces are carefully constructed and (I am told) more touching due to the objectivity. It is easy to write sentimental, personal pieces about your children, but I am determined for my pieces unless to approach the issues of childhood and motherhood in surprising or otherwise engaging ways.
3. Why do I write what I do?
To understand the world and my thoughts. As a record of life events, though I find it difficult to write on demand for birthdays or weddings, especially of close family and find I leave these pieces until the last minute and pull something off that is appreciated by the audience. Because I have to. It is a natural for me to write as it is for people to walk, run, brush their hair. If I didn’t make time to write I feel there would be a chasm in every day.
4. How does your writing process work?
As well as writing at workshops or writing days and for/with online groups I find when I am involved in writing sessions I often wake up with poems semi-formed and wanting to be written. Recently, I have been making myself get up, have a cup of tea and write on the door-step, before Frank is up. If Frank wakes before me the kernel of a poem is often lost in the demands of a three-year-old. Though I am trying to distract him for long enough to write for five minutes each morning if I write with a drive to. Sometimes for several months I don’t enjoy any of the pieces I write. If I sit this out I often find I come out the other side with a mass of poems that seem fully-formed, as if they have been mulling all that time and just waiting for the right moment to splurge into the notebook (or maybe the right notebook). I don’t set aside a certain amount a day to write, but often manage to fit it in when I need to. Outside the holidays I do spread-sheet work two days a week and spend much of the rest of my time planning workshops and events. Social Media essential to this and having a magic phone that brings it to my attention when messages come through or social media is working it’s wonder. I find it difficult to ignore my phone, but tear myself from it for hours sometimes in order to write. Many of my pieces come out mostly realised and I try to recognise when this is the case and not mess with them too much. Others start with a phrase and build or need a form to batter them into order, often taking years to feel complete. I write on envelopes, receipts, on the back of bills, anywhere if I don’t have a note-book to hand. If there is no paper and I am walking (often when I feel the need to write) and I have a phone with me I send my husband the notes or poem – makes for amusing messages and means I don’t lose the thread.
I run Post Box Poets:
The next event is on Tuesday 6th May with guests Alicia Stubbersfield, Clare Shaw and Rod Tame. £3 on the door at Post Box Café Chorlton, M21 9PP
Chorlton Library Sundays: Sunday May 4th 1-3pm. £3 Chorlton Library, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9PN
Horse-meet writing sessions: Wednesday 9th April 12-2pm £5 Horse and Jockey, Chorlton Green, Manchester, M21 9HS
Post Box Pennings: Thursday 17th April 7:30-9pm £5 Post Box Café, Chorlton, M21 9PP
Over the next couple of weeks you can look forward to:
Louise Fazackerley Biog: http://louisethepoet.co.uk/info/ http://bbcnewvoices.wordpress.com/ Blog will be posted 14th April
Nina Lewis: http://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/category/performance-poetry/ blog will be posted 14th April
Sarah James is a poet, short fiction writer and journalist. Her first collection Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press, 2010) won third prize in the International Rubery Book Awards 2011. A second, more experimental collection, Be[yond], is published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. She also enjoys photography, poetryfilm, perfromance poetry and collaborations. Her website and blog are at: www.sarah-james.co.uk . Blog will be posted 21st April.