Thursday, 17 June 2010

Long overdue update

I hadn't realised it had been so long...
The day job has been taking up far too much time and energy: one person leaving suddenly and a key member of staff being seriously ill and likely to be off for some time yet has left me running around like a blue-arsed fly and turned my brain to mush.

But, off to Bangor for the 'Great Writing' conference in the morning and a whole weekend away from the day job will be very welcome and might, hopefully, charge my creative energies a bit. I am giving a paper which is a creative/academic combination; I've written it but haven't had time to read it through a few times - which I would have preferred so that I could be more fluent and take my eyes from the paper more.

This is the end of my first PhD year and, so far, I have no regrets at all about starting it. The poems are coming - albeit slower and harder than they used to, but needing less revision. I suspect that - unless I were content to keep on churning out the same stuff - the slowing down comes naturally with more experience as the internal editor gets fiercer.

I'm still trying to move in a new direction but it is hard and I have to battle every poem at the moment to prevent them slipping into the same old grooves. I'm aware though, that it may not look like a new direction to anyone else. I was reading a review recently in which the reviewer commented that the poets first book had been what is expected for a first book: childhood memories, personal reflections, poems about family and/or relationships. For me - these themes are a challenge and a new direction. I have always resisted writing in the first person (apart from the usual teenagey angst stuff that was not fit for public consumption) unless in persona and it feels very risky to do so now.

I've been analysing why I find it so uncomfortable and there are a number of reasons:
- a methodist, working class upbringing in which talking about oneself too much was unacceptable
- a feeling of "why should anyone be interested?"
- being a very private person
- how easily women, in particular, are disparagingly called 'confessional'

For the moment, anyway, I find it very difficult to assess these poems myself, although they are being well received by others. I do know that I can't continue writing the same poems as I have been doing: there are some poems in 'Occupation' that I'm very happy with - but feel dissatisfied if I write anything like it now.

So - time to pack a case for the morning and be very glad that I'm off work.