Hitting the Wall

Julie’s kind comment about yesterday’s tanka made me think.  I almost gave up on that tanka, thought maybe I’d hit the tanka wall as it were.  After all, I’ve written twenty-two poems so far this month, which might be impressive for anyone, but for me it’s doesn’t even seem possible.  Before last year’s poem-a-day, one-week challenge from Stacey and Ruth (this year’s challenge starts Thursday, folks), writing more than one poem a year was unheard of.  And maybe I had forced out as much poetry as I could hope for?  But I let it sit all night, came back to it at the last minute and found  a way to finish.

So is writing — poetry or anything else — like running, like working out?  You push yourself as far as you can go … and then you get to the point where you feel you can’t go any further, but instead of stopping, you push yourself a little further … and you get past that point and find a new burst of energy?  We’ll see.  My tanka have been mostly inspired by things I see and do outside this house.  Today I’m not budging.  I’ve got to finish that grant proposal I lost yesterday, and I have about a thousand things to do around here.  Can I pull poetry out of housework and fundraising?  We shall see ….

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7 thoughts on “Hitting the Wall

  1. i too am writing a poem a day. and feel like i hit a wall. i do think poetry is an exercise. something that you get better and more fluid in the longer you practice.
    could we cross post this to raven’s eye please? if so email us at: ravenseyeblog@gmail.com

    1. I definitely agree that poetry is an exercise … all the writing do is an exercise, and I hope that I improve the more I write, the more I push myself. It’s just really unusual to think of myself as writing poetry, writing so much poetry.

  2. I meant to say before that ALL writing counts–laundry lists and grant proposals included! People sometimes ask me if a I have a writing ritual or routine, and I tell them I wake up and write every day–not poetry or prose, though, I get up and write emails for a couple of hours. Or I blog. Or I read other folks’ blogs. And ALL of that counts as preparation–what do we tell our students? Pre-writing is as important as the writing itself. I personally think writing is 70% dreaming; it’s not forcing yourself to crank out ten pages a day. Writing a poem a day takes a certain kind of discipline and stamina…Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a play a day for a year, and the goal wasn’t to produce 365 outstanding plays–it was the exercise itself that meant something. To me, that’s like training for a marathon; you do it to say you did it. I can only sustain activities I love, but what’s more valuable: your “organic” writing, the work you produce without pressure, or the words you summon on command?

    1. Yes, it all counts … and the things I do that aren’t directly putting my pen to paper — the books I read, the people I talk to, the daydreaming on the bus — all of those things count, too. And I know that, really know that … so it’s still so strange to me that I wouldn’t have thought about all the poems I’ve been writing when I went to my writers’ group. But I’ll be bringing a bunch with me tomorrow!

    2. Oh, forgot to say: I love Parks’ 365 project. The idea is so fantastic. I went to a performance of several of the plays at the Public Theater. A friend of mine was in two of them.

  3. Zetta said it all! Ditto, ditto, ditto. When I wrote Banished the characters lived in my brain until I could sit down and write. When I felt it was time, the writing just came because of the “prewriting” I did with those crazy cats hanging out in the frontal lobe, yo. 🙂

    Keep going, I say!

    1. In some ways, I do think of this poem-a-day business as a way to keep my writing mind awake, keep my focused on a kind of writing that’s different from my work-related writing and my blog writing … And certainly I hope my tanks get better, but I want to believe I’m priming the pump as it were, keeping myself limber so when the next story comes along, I’m ready to write it.

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