Sunday, 16 August 2009

Dry spell

The book release and completing my dissertation has left me poem-dry. I am in that I don't have another poem in me frame of mind, which I loathe. The dissertation isn't due in for another three weeks and I finished it at the end of July but I keep on fiddling with it - titivating the layout and changing odd words. I think it's displacement activity; once I hand it in, I'll have to get myself in gear and start writing again - somehow.

I know it will come back, it always does. Usually, poems return slowly with just a hint or a taste of one long before any words come back. In the meantime though, I have a sense of mentally flailing around, looking for anything that might trigger the start of the process.

I can do the exercises, keep on writing something, responding to online challenges and themes - but actually, I suspect my best work has usually come from quiet periods. Maybe all that is needed is to be open to the possibility of a poem forming, maybe I need a fallow period after working flat out for a couple of years.

It's easier said than done to accept it though...


  1. Don't worry about it. What matters is quality, not quantity.

    Everyone seems to think they need to publish a book a year. If it were more like a book every five years, wouldn't the books be better?

  2. Thanks for commenting, both :)
    I'm not thinking about a book - it's far too soon and I want to let 'Occupation' have its day before I think about another (though the disseration portfolio is about half a book). I think 3 - 4 years is a good space between books.

    I just loathe the feeling of not having something brewing in my hind brain. Normally, there is always something there that I can take out and poke at, to see if it's ready for writing yet. I know it will come back and I think I probably need a fallow period - but I don't like it!

  3. I think whatever your craft, there are down times. I think of them as gathering times now, times when you stuff thoughts in your pocket for later. One of my first mentors told me when I was still working,juggling a complicated life and lamenting having little time for art that I should "remember that one doesn't have to be at an easel to paint... to see and save, to think about what you've seen, let it nag at you a while before you begin".

    I suspect your muse is weary, too...after this great year you two have had!

    She'll be back soon. : )


  4. I try not to fight these fallow periods and just let them happen. Sometimes I find a new, totally out of character topic to read about and explore, or do something I wouldn't usually do, just to shake things up. Then I journal about these new things...not with any expectations of poems, but just observations, silliness, doodles. It IS hard, but productive in its way. Good luck...and try to enjoy it.

  5. Thanks Pat & Marybeth.
    I know it will return so I'm not panicking (well maybe a tad as I will be enrolling for the PhD soon). I am used to letting things brew in my hind brain and don't worry too much if I can't actually write; I have to work that way because of all the other things that eat my time. I just really don't like it when there is nothing that I'm aware of brewing back there. It will pass.

  6. "I have a sense of mentally flailing around, looking for anything that might trigger the start of the process."

    I know the feeling so well. You're not alone, Angela.