Sick kid, new puppies that visit here everyday (belonging to my sister-in-law–see below), rain, cold weather–life is not dull. It changes every instant.
Sick kid is turning the corner, we think–and so hope that tonight is a better night for her than the two nights past. The usual stuffy head, runny nose, sneeze, cough, feel like dreck stuff that I had not too long ago. She’s tired, too. But all shall be well.
I’m sitting here staring at the page wondering what to write which I know is never a good idea. I thought I had something to say, but apparently I don’t. Whether because so much of what I have to say is far too personal to put here or because somehow, whatever I have to say isn’t all that interesting to anyone, I don’t quite know where to go. But as I always tell my students, there is no such thing as writer’s block–it is a figment of the imagination, actually–quite literally. There is always something to write. The problem is that since we equate writing with thinking, we assume we should think first, then write. In actual fact it is the opposite. One should write first, think later. That’s why there are revisions to writing. That’s why the first draft is never the best draft. There is always a way to make it better. Always.
What’s fascinating about that is that years of research even shows us that poets go through laborious drafts on even the shortest of poems. Students, particularly of the secondary ilk, don’t think that way. Indoctrination that their feelings are OK has set in and so they set down to write a piece of poetry and knock one off in five minutes, rife with cliche, oozing with hackneyed phrases and images and usually titled something like, “life.” Oh, gawd–it’s awful stuff. One tries reasoning with them and that never works, so I’ve worked my way around the process by giving them the option of writing poems after doing copious amounts of literature research. Seems to help. They have to dig into a poet they like and then attempt to emulate that poet, while still being original in using their own words. This is paramount–for it is not poets I am trying to make–but critical thinkers. And poetry can certainly spawn critical thinking, if done correctly.
Meanwhile–still listening to Big Country. It’s fulfilling all my necessities of bleakness. I’m in that bleak mode, which is a little better than the ugly depression mode. The u.d. mode is responsible for some hideous stuff, actually–but the bleakness can be rather fun. It tends to be the stuff of creativity, at least for me. I note that when I am particularly happy, I don’t write as much–except here. But it’s an odd cycle, too–because writing in general comes out of that bleakness and writing makes me happy, so then I get to a happy point and sort of, slow down on the writing–sort of like a car, you know? You fill it up and now you can go where you need to go. But as you drive on the trip to getting to the place that will make you happy, you have to keep filling up. The writing is the filling up, I suppose. It keeps me happy.
Write now. Think later. If you need evidence of this, rent Finding Forrester with Sean Connery and Rob Campbell. A fine film and one with that very advice in it.