Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Keeping Going

This morning was one of those times when I sat down and scribbled on a blank piece of paper words that seemed to have no purpose or meaning or need for existence. But I kept going anyway because it's the only way to keep the channel open, to keep the pump primed, as they say. Writing is often an experience of delayed gratification, work and work and even boredom before something happens again. I think of it as exercise, meditation, discipline in the wee dawn hours.

Then I got to my office, looked at my Poetry Speaks daily calendar, and came across this quote (it was dated November 28 ... I'm still playing catch up from vacation last week):

"I think that poetry is the voice of the soul, whispering, celebrating, singing even ... poetry is the consciousness which gives rise to voice.... You have to keep writing and writing until the poem emerges from your soul." - Carolyn Forche


  1. Personally, when I don't feel like writing I don't write. I don't force it. So I don't agree that you have to keep writing and writing. Sometimes I think one should fill the well and do something other than write. Then again, I'm not a professional writer. But I know what you mean about writing to keep the channel open. If I have a promising idea or phrase I'll follow its thread, but if I don't, I do something other than write. Have you read any of Willian Stafford's books on writing yet? I really think you'd like them.

  2. I agree that writing can't be forced. I definitely learned that while working on my MFA. At some point I just had to give up on certain poems. And there definitely are many other ways to fill the well. But what I was talking about is more along the lines of keeping the channel open, keeping in shape so to speak, even when nothing exciting is going on.

    I haven't read William Stafford yet, not a whole book anyway, but I will. I like what I know of his method - it seems like he was pretty spontaneous and didn't overwrite or overwrought too much.