…no, not NaNoWriMo, I haven’t had time for that! The last ten weeks have been spent immersed in a world of poetry (ModPo) and creative writing study (How Writers Write Fiction). I have been walking round with a sheaf of poems to read stuffed in my bag, every spare coffee break has been spent watching course videos, when the kids go to bed I’ve been turning to the latest assignment or tackling some peer evaluations. And then there are the forums / Twitter…it’s been full on but utterly mind-expanding! Then today I woke up to the realisation that there are no more assignments, no videos to watch, no new poems and stories to read..it’s all over.
I feel no sense of freedom, just a great big sad slump. In one sense, this was all displacement activity when I should be working on my novel but I think I judged right that feeding my brain all this wonderful stuff would only be a good thing in the long run. If I’m not opening my mind to new ways of doing things & reading quality literature of all shapes and sizes, then my own work will stagnate.
IWP’s “How Writers Write Fiction” was of direct benefit – it’s been 7 weeks of superb tuition on all aspects of writing fiction. I completed all the assignments (usually c.1000 words following specific instructions) and I’m really pleased with what I did. I think these could be worked up into short stories or more, I’ll let them sit for a while and then revisit. I found this course to be just the right level for me: demanding but not overwhelming. I plan to do a quick review now of all the material we covered before I recommence my novel.
Penn’s “ModPo” on the other hand will take over your entire life if you are lucky enough to be able to let it! I was not familiar with any of the poetry apart from a little Walt Whitman – being a Brit, we didn’t encounter it at school and I remained an ignoramus ever since. I opened myself up to it all and found all my ideas reworked and expanded on what poetry (and indeed life) is all about. I can see that my brain is actually sharper after listening to 10 weeks of the close reading discussions – it’s been the best brain workout.
I’m going to spend a couple of days reviewing how I go forwards now. I’d like to dip back into ModPo to look at the “ModPoPlus” material but I think I have to put my novel first. I have a week’s leave in December so I’m aiming to be ready to storm it then with fresh outlines and ideas. As HWWF’s Christopher Merrill would say, “Onwards!”