Saturday, February 2, 2008

Writing on Week Twenty-three

I have been away from my blog for sometime. To be honest, I am starting to believe that my day job as a government correspondence writer is sucking the writing life right out of me. Also, it is winter. I had approached the beginning of our winter season with the romantic notion that this would be a time to reflect on my various writings. I went so far as to purchase a journal for the sole use of recording my thoughts about the poems I enjoyed reading. I've made one entry so far on my own amateur perceptions of Emily Dickinson's poetry. I've been taking her into the bath with me, reflecting on her long-dead passions on life. Here are my thought on her poem titled, Hope (I encourage you to look it up):

In the poem, the poet is personifying hope by turning it into a grounded bird within us - something that hasn't yet tested its wings. Still, the bird sings, ever faithful, and unrelenting to its caged existence. It knows how to free itself, and to look beyond the danger and hostility of the unknown. Hope asks for nothing and needs no promise. It simply knows and believes, beyond any and all circumstances, in the truth, regardless.

Perhaps sharing these musings will evoke another category for my blog participation. I would like some feedback, once you've read the poem yourself. I know this is work, and I am the last person to boast staying on schedule these days, but I would like to create some more dialogue.

I have completed my second poetry manuscript, and am now making the preparations to submit it to a publisher. This also takes time, and careful consideration in the presentation of one's work. I need to construct a synopsis of my book of poems, which is a challenge in itself. There is a much fainter line connecting the poems, which look at the aspects of human existence from different angles. The poems are slices of life, relationships and death; snapshots in time and how we perceive our world individually, emotionally and critically.

As for my novel, I am near approaching a word-count that complies with the standard novel length of 80,000 words. I've managed to pound out 7,000 more words since the Surrey International Writers' Conference I attended in October 2007. I am weaving the scenes together, and digging deeper below the surface of a few once-shallow characters. There are gaps that I've identified and am working to close - some more easily than others. I've found I've reached a point of critical research, which will require extensive reading, note-taking, discussion and observation. I've already begun. My goal for finishing the first draft of my novel is summer 2008.

Lately, I've been attending different events at the Solstice Cafe in Victoria. There is another poetry troupe that convenes on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, Tongues of Fire. Their poetic style is more performance-based, but really anything goes. I have one poem that I would like to commit to memory and perform because I believe it would be much more powerful. It is a poem written from a disturbing memory. The poem is called, Bully. I was also invited to submit another poem to the upcoming issue of the Tongues of Fire chapbook, Sparks. If you're local, watch for it. Tongues of Fire is becoming my second poetry home.

The other event I've attended at Solstice is the Cafe Philosophy, which occurs every Wednesday night. My main purpose in attending these philosophical sessions is to gain research for my novel, as I have a few scenes where a group of men meet in a tavern to discuss the problems of the world and human nature. So, I decided to engage in such an environment. I found the discussion very open, inviting and stimulating.

Basically, a topic is thrown out and there is a facilitator who passes around a cordless microphone to those who would like to share their thoughts, ideas and arguments on the topic. Some refer to academic findings in the field of philosophy or psychology to support their ideas, and others draw from personal experience or belief.

I will attend again. The winter nights are hindering me in some ways. You would think that being in a warm coffeehouse with a mug of hot chocolate, coffee or chai tea would not be an obstacle... but the evenings are short and the work days are long. I've also been fighting off colds and struggling to fit in all of my writing pursuits. I have more projects and ideas on the horizon (I reassure myself that I will finish them in this lifetime).

I am enthusiastic about the writing connections I am establishing. I've reconnected with someone who is eager to share our novels-in-progress for support and feedback. I am also continuing to meet with other aspiring poets, through my workplace, who are making time to meet for coffee or lunch to share our literary work and ideas.

I would like to create more reading opportunities to sell the last few copies of my first book, and then move on from there. All of this requires the energy to split my life in various ways, and save my ambitions for the end of the work day -- the one that, for now, pays the bills.

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