Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 27: Kvetching, Cheating, Coasting

Al…most…done with the write-a-poem-a-day thing.

I hit a serious wall about halfway through the month, when it seemed like I was writing nothing but junk, and cranking it out only because I had made this obligation to write every day, not because I wanted to actually be writing every day. Oh, the kvetching! I even cheated one day, and dredged up something from a couple of months ago. I did at least revise it and trim its scary hair a bit. Then I felt bad and didn’t cheat again. Yet…

But even in the midst of that mid-month whinefest, I made a few discoveries. One was that I never knew what was going to come out of my pen on any given day or night. I would sit down with the simplest of intentions—usually, to write the shortest poem possible to hurry up and post it and get the damned thing over with so I could watch Being Human* and go to bed. And after the usual many minutes of staring into space, something would come to mind. Then something else, and something else. And an hour later, I often wound up with something I was not expecting to see—a poem about losing my mom, whom I still miss after 10+ years, or a poem about the evocative title of a fiddle tune, or one comparing house-hunting to boyfriend-hunting. Of course, writing poems is always that way, but it was happening pretty much every day.

During that tough going in the middle of the month, I was bolstered by a lecture I heard by animator Miles Inada. He talked about the dreaded “40% point”—on any given project, he said, there’s a period of despair that you hit when you’re about 40% done. You’ve done so freakin’ much work already, and there’s still so much ahead, looming in front of you like the Himalayas, and you’re standing there with your pitiful little ice pick and Clif Bar. And you just want to quit and drag your sorry ass back home for—what else?—a few more episodes of Being Human**. Well, Inada didn’t say all that, but he did talk about that 40% thing, which rang especially true right then, in the midst of the poetry marathon.

But for the past week or so, NaPoWriMo has seemed more like coasting downhill on a bicycle—not such hard pedaling, and the finish line is well within sight. I’ve also gotten into a nice groove of getting up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and writing a poem then. I always get up in the middle of the night to eat a spoonful of almond butter (thank you, crazy blood sugar), and it’s my favorite time to write, when the skin of dreams still hangs over everything and seemingly random phrases dart through my head. Ideas come out at that hour that I don’t get at any other time of day.

So far, I’ve gotten maybe six poems out of NaPoWriMo that I think will turn into something usable. So that’s pretty good. About a half-year’s supply, normally. Well worth the kvetching.


* I’m going to be dropping this name a lot. I love this show. It was nominated today for a BAFTA (British Emmy) award, about which I am nerdily excited.

** I like the British version better, although the American version is pretty great too, and is more shockingly violent.

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