Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blogging and dailiness

Like many of us around these parts, I occasionally stop and wonder whether blogging contributes to my "real" writing or detracts from it. (Well, most of you probably don't wonder whether blogging contributes to MY writing... you know what I mean.) And the truth is, although I don't spend that much time actually blogging -- I don't post every day or anything like that -- I do spend time reading all y'all's blogs, time which could probably be spent reading poems or actually writing or something.

But I've decided that, for now anyway, it works out to my benefit. When I first started this blog, I told myself that this was my writing blog. I may talk about other stuff in here, but I try to keep thoughts of writing/poetry at the center of it -- I try to think of myself as a writer, as a poet, here. And believe me, when you work 40 hours a week doing something else and come home to a messy house and cats who need attention and a tv that promises wonderful things will happen if you just park your butt on the couch and watch long enough, it's easy to forget to think of yourself as a writer. (As I've said before, nobody's going to come running after me begging for poems if I don't write.) So I come here and I read about other people's writing and I think about writing, think of myself as a writer, every day. It really does help to remind me that poetry is at the center of my life. And it works (sometimes to the detriment of other things in my life, not that there are that many other things in my life). Sometimes poetry feels like the only thing that really matters. And when I'm in that frame of mind, I'm bound to get more writing done than if I fail to think about poetry at all for a day or more. It's always there, tugging at my sleeve.

And hell... if it weren't for the fact that I would feel obligated to come over here and tattle on myself if I gave up, I don't know that I would actually have made it this far with the NaPoWriMo thing. I've written far more lousy poems than good ones this month, but I knew that would be the case, and I've written some that I hope aren't lousy which I don't think I would have written had I not been making the effort to write something every day.

I read an interview with David Lehman (where did I see it? it's really true, the short-term memory is the first thing to go...) in which the interviewer asked him whether he still writes a poem every day. His answer was essentially "yes, but I miss a lot of days." It occurred to me when I read it that "I write every day although I miss a lot of days" is a very different mindset than "I don't write every day." I think if the default setting on your write-o-meter is "daily," you're a heck of a lot more likely to get more work done than if you sort of wait around till you feel like writing, or till you find the time, or whatever. Even if you don't actually write every day. (And I think it's important not to beat up on yourself if you don't. Okay, you didn't write today ... tomorrow's a new day.) And after this poem-a-day month is over, that's where I want to be: I write every day, except for some days when I don't.

So that's what this blog (and many of the blogs I read) does for me: it's like the little squeaky voice of poetry, hanging right behind me, poking me in the butt, tugging on my sleeve, saying "pssst. I'm everywhere. I'm every day. Don't forget me."


Rebecca said...

How is it that you're always able to say exactly what I'm thinking? It's uncanny.

Lyle Daggett said...

It's similar for me. I make at least an effort to write every day -- if nothing else, I sit with the notebooks open in front of me (or more or less in front -- at the moment, as I'm typing this, they're lying to one side). I don't always manage to write something, but I stay open to the possibility, which seems the most essential thing.

Carol Peters said...

What seems to have helped me most is this rule: if you think it, write it. I have to be holding the pen for the rule to be useful, so I hold the pen. I write a lot of stupid pathetic stuff I would never have written before. I write lying down with the notebook beside me and my eyes aimed only enough so the words hit the page. If my mind thinks words like "this is pathetic" I write "this is pathetic." Things are opening up wildly for me.