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Verbal remedy - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Verbal remedy
I suppose I should come clean: I'm trying to write a post every day of this month. Not NaNoWriMo but JaJoWriMo. There's no wordcount -- it's just an exercise (bend down and touch pen to paper) to try to kickstart me into writing something again. I won't mind if nobody reads it.

I've never written a novel. I don't think I've ever got beyond 6 pages of a "novel"; that's barely even a short story. In the sixth form at school I was the one who wrote poetry (there's always one); everybody always assumed I'd Write My Novel eventually. After I left school, a couple of people even asked me "have you written your novel yet?" Unfortunately, most of them chose to ask that during the years when I thought I'd spend the rest of my life marking up photocopies with SGML in red pen; I'd stopped writing poetry, basically stopped writing anything except LiveJournal. Not a good time to ask.

I'm not sure why people should think that writing poetry should naturally lead to writing a novel; it's like asking Linford Christie why he hasn't got as far as running a marathon yet. (Okay, he probably has/does/did/will just to spite me now.) I guess people assume that it's all to do with endurance (and like most lies, there's probably truth in it: some of it is doubtless about "applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair"). The idea, I suppose, would be that you start with a couple of haiku every morning before work, you build up to limericks, sonnets, villanelles; eventually you're ready to start tackling blank verse and epic poetry, and only when you've mastered that can you really start pushing the envelope and writing all the way to the end of each line. I've found it's more like the other way round; you start by writing "stories" where stuff happens to other people or to oneself in the relentless way that stuff has of happening in life: "one damned thing after another," she said and he said and then they, yes, and after a while it all seems so repetitive that you start distilling, cramming more meaning into words, into the spaces between words, bursting at the caesuras, and before you know it, all is logos, singular singularity.

Maybe that's not how it's meant to work.

The poetry never really recovered from the shock of leaving puberty; a brief flare and a long slow fade to black. Eventually it grew up (or what passes for growing up these days) and moved away, drifted around, tried a few different things, never quite settled. I cycled past it -- I'm sure it was the same poem, it had that look, ragged at the line-endings -- the other day and I don't think it even recognised me; I thought I'd look it up again some time but somewhere between the crossroads and the coffee cup, the thought slid away. I don't know what I'd have said to it anyway. Maybe next time.
Read 4 | Write
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: November 7th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
For what it's worth, it's seemed to be being producing interesting posts so far.
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: November 7th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC) (Link)
The poetry never really recovered from the shock ...

Nice piece!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 7th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like your writing immensely.

But even great writers - which you may yet be, you're hardly past it - don't always write novels. I think it was Anthony Powell who said that novels and novel-writing were a tremendous waste of time and mental effort and there were many more interesting and useful things on which to expend one's energy; he included poetry in this latter category.

Besides, Zadie Smith et alia notwithstanding, not everyone has something to say before they're thirty or so.
1ngi From: 1ngi Date: November 7th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sigh. Yet again, you leaving me wishing that we had met in other circumstances because I adore the way you write and there is so much you say that I 'get'.

Dunno if you've read Stephen-lord-of-all-joy-Fry's Ode Less Travelled yet but I rather like the way he has decided that the writing of poetry is for him alone, a private pleasure. I squirrel my stuff away most of the time. Occasionally lovers and best mates get it flung at them and are very nice about it. Most of the stuff is full of bitter angriness and best avoided.

I decided to go the sure fire way of get paid for writing and became not just a hack but a copywriter, the lowest of the low. And then you get people saying "ah but didn't Fay-go-to-work-on-an-egg-Weldon start out as one of them? You could write a novel if you wanted to?" And I reply "Yes, she did and so did Salman Rushdie and look what happened to him!" Which usually conveniently diverts the conversation.

Enjoyed reading this.
Read 4 | Write