September 1st. The first day of autumn, at least for us in the northern hemisphere. Where I live they say it will be warm again next week. Kids back to school, of course…
As time gets shorter – both in the sense that it seems to travel faster, and that there’s inevitably always less of it to look forward to – I get an increasing sense that one should not make resolutions just at the beginning of each year. Because of time’s tyranny, each quarter becomes ever more important and precious, so why not a resolution at the beginning of each of these? But where will that end: resolutions each month? Each week? Maybe that’s how we should live our lives, a resolution every day…
But then I don’t do resolutions any more. And I certainly don’t use them when it comes to writing. Not that I haven’t succumbed in the past. I mean, who hasn’t? But I’m struck, when wandering through the Discover section of WordPress, how many people do: ‘a poem a day’, ‘a thousand words a week’, ‘flash fiction through the alphabet’ (“I’m on ‘P'” they say…).
We know why people adopt such regimes. Because they want to write; because writing’s important to them.
And why don’t I? Because I want to write, and because writing’s important to me.
In the past I found that you can become a slave to your routine. You have to write something that starts with the letter “K”, is at least 300 hundred words long. Or this week Maisie has to have another wacky adventure. Or you have to write sonnet 48 in that 200 sonnet sequence you’ve planned. If that works for you, fine; but I found I ended up writing for the wrong reason, to satisfy the pattern. Most often what came out was drivel. And why? Because I didn’t believe in it; I wasn’t emotionally invested in it. I think you can see a lot of things written which are more wheel-turning than heart-turning. And we’re not hamsters.
Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe as time has shortened and I now understand how important writing is to me – at long last! – I don’t need to be put into a straightjacket. When I’m on a roll, writing fiction, I can turn out over a thousand words an hour, especially when it’s dialogue. I’m not saying they’re all good words – they aren’t! – but it’s a start. And when I’m writing at that pace, by the way, it’s because I am invested in what I’m writing and who I’m writing about. I can go three weeks without writing any poetry and then ‘find’ three new poems in as many days.
It’s magic really. And maybe I’m just lucky.
Why I am I telling you all this – other than because it’s the 1st of September? I don’t know really. I’ve just been browsing through the cacophony of noise that WordPress inevitably generates and thought I’d chuck in my two-penneth.