Monday, October 19, 2009

Words fail me

After almost a year and a half of pretty intense productivity, it doesn’t surprise me that I’m not writing at all lately. I don’t really believe in “writer’s block” but at the same time it seems pretty normal to have periods when the writing just doesn’t happen. That’s happened before and it will happen again, and especially given that I’m in the very last stages of completing a big project, doesn’t freak me out at all.

What does freak me out, somewhat, is the fact that I don’t seem to be able to read poetry right now. I get to a page with a poem on it and my eyes just blip right over it, almost as if it’s in a language I don’t read. It is the damnedest thing, and I don’t remember it ever happening before. Maybe for a day or a few days, but not as an ongoing thing like this.

Maybe this is my reflexive way of ensuring that I don’t go back to my new manuscript until I’ve gotten some serious distance from it and can be somewhat objective. Maybe I’m spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter and just don’t have the attention span (or the depth of focus) necessary for poetry. Maybe zombies ate my brain. I have no clue.

Has this ever happened to anyone else?

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Also, there’s one thing that is annoying me right now about aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, and that is how the real-time nature of it gives me all kinds of reasons for envy (a feeling I do not like having). It is easy to become painfully aware of other people who have time in the middle of the day to write a poem, go for a walk, curl up with a book, send out manuscripts, take a nap – while I’m sitting in my cubicle or working with students at the reference desk. I like my job. I like it quite a bit. But man, I don’t really need to be reminded of how nice it would be to have more time for writing, and of how much better a writer I think I’d be if I had more time to give to it.

Assuming, of course, I would actually write if I had time. Which, right now, who knows.

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On a happier note, this weekend I am off to St. Louis for one more Springsteen/E Street Band show. This will be my next to last show of this tour, which is to say, my next to last E Street Band show for the foreseeable future. After November the band is going on hiatus for at least a year and a half, possibly/probably longer, and there's no guarantee of another tour. At the very least, it seems unlikely that, two or three years down the road, these guys will be doing the three-hour-plus, full-throttle rock shows they've been doing. Not impossible, but ... unlikely.

I’m certainly going to savor every moment of what's left, every bit of thunder.


Deb said...

Bruce and the ESB are sure to reinvigorate your writing, don't you think? Inspiration in any form usually does the trick for me.

Anne said...

Deb: You would think so, right? But I've been to 3 shows (Mansfield x2 and Chicago) since the last time I wrote a poem worthy of the name. Usually if I spend an hour or two reading poems I almost reflexively draft at least one of my own, so I think if I can get past whatever is keeping me from being able to read the things, I'll get back to writing too...

Lyle Daggett said...

Sometimes during my "dry" periods (and I do have them), I also have times when I find it hard to read poems. I would find this sometimes even long before computers became everywhere, which is another way of saying that I don't think it's necessarily a result of spending too much time online. Though I won't try to speak for you about that.

I've found a good way of getting myself back into poetry-receptive space is to spend time being silent and quietly attentive, just observing the world around me, getting closer to the silence before words that poems often come from.

Have a rockin' time in St. Louis.

Jessie Carty said...

i have definitely gone through the spells of not wanting to read poetry either. When that happens, I usually switch to another genre or I go back and read a book that I truly love :)

and i feel slightly guilty about being one of those homebodies, but i still only have a few hours, at best, to write a week with taking care of the house, doing lit mag work and favors for almost everyone who asks. but i really would like your kind of job!

Collin Kelley said...

I think that happens to all poets, Anne. While I've been doing the fiction thing, though, I've found myself reading more poetry.

Radish King said...

I had to make a hard decision this year to literally free up time for writing, then I had to promise myself I'd actually write during that time. I gave up the 2 workshops I taught, and now I use that night for writing only. I continue to use my blog as my writing practice but I found that reading and writing on Twitter is a huge time suck. As is television. As is surfing the net for no particular reason. As was dealing with 10 neurotic poets all the time. So far so good. I had to make a commitment to it though, to myself and to one other person.

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a big poetry project I find it difficult to read other poetry. Sometimes it's just like you said, looks like a foreign language. Sometimes I find myself being swayed by someone else's work so I stop. But I do read. Fiction or short stories, whatever. I never stop reading.