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At long last, a new start

Friends, I have been struggling for months now. When it comes to writing, I just haven't gotten all that much done (one and a half picture book drafts and less than 10 poems since late last fall). The thing is, I have had an IDEA for that entire time, and have done a bunch of research, but when it comes time to write, only two of those aforementioned poems are related to the project I've been pondering.

This morning, I figured out a few things about this project, which is related to women's suffrage (hence the new icon, a still from the song "Sister Suffragette" in Mary Poppins).

One is that I pretty much already know most of the stuff I want to write about, and I've been stalling. Which is something I've been aware of lo these many (many) months. All that research has been helpful, but adding layers on top of layers to what I already know isn't really advancing the cause at this point.

Two is that I have been trying to figure out the "perfect" organizing principle for these poems before starting. And that isn't entirely helpful, although eventually a decent organizing principle will be necessary. Waiting for a framework in this case isn't precisely needed, because I can always slot things inside a framework later. And maybe letting my brain write the poems it wants to will give me a pool of work that leads to a different framework than the one I've been trying to force. And the one I've been trying to force is a terrific framework, but it has also led to me being blocked from proceeding. I should have realized that meant something before now, but hey - I'm a slow learner sometimes.

Three is that I have been shying away from writing about really difficult subjects because I have convinced myself that I need to immerse myself in the research and details of what happened to women who were at the foreground of fighting for the right to vote, such as imprisonment, beatings, and forced feedings. And I realized (as I was making matzo brei for myself and my sweetheart this morning) that what I already have internalized the horrible stuff enough to write about it, and can supplement what I know with further details as I go, but that (a) I don't need to read every single account of forced feeding and know every single detail about how it was done and who it was done to in order to write about it and (b) I've already learned enough about it to be upset by it, and not writing about it won't take away that uneasiness, disgust and dismay.

And right about that time (as I was scrambling the eggs to add to the matzoh), a whisper surfaced from inside: Force feeding would make an excellent pantoum, it said. Just think of the possible end-words, and how the horror would build reading the repetition of the abuse.

I didn't eat that much breakfast this morning, and not because I was disgusted by the thought of forced feeding, but because I was excited to get started. I almost didn't notice that Morris was leaving to teach classes, I was so absorbed by my work. (But I remedied that one - life is too short not to stop things for goodbye kisses!) And I wrote a workable down-draft of the poem, and am ready to roll on more of them.

It feels good to be excited about writing again.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2015 09:31 pm (UTC)
Huzzah, huzzah!
Research can be such a lovely distraction, masking what is really going on in our brains. How wonderful that you have broken free from it.

(Side note: That was always one of my favorite songs from MARY POPPINS.)
Aug. 6th, 2015 01:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Huzzah, huzzah!
It's one of my favorite songs from Mary Poppins, too. And I sing it ALL THE TIME now. Along with "Votes for Women! step in time . . ."

I am glad the lengthy incubation period appears to be over (and gone for good, as I'm now moving forward daily).
Aug. 4th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! I'm so happy for your breakthrough.

I like your icon! That's such a wonderful scene.

Yes, they did horrific, things to those poor women. I just couldn't believe it when I first read about it. I actually stopped reading about it. *shivers* I wish you all the best writing in writing your poems.
Aug. 6th, 2015 01:51 pm (UTC)
I know JUST what you mean about stopping reading. And I think that's part of what I was worried about. But I finally figured out I didn't need to read every account of every forced feeding to write a poem about it, and giving myself that sort of "pass" - and starting by writing one of the poems I thought would be hardest - seems to have broken the log jam. Thanks for your kind words!!
TS Davis
Aug. 5th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
A clear excuse to watch Mary Poppins
Well done to you.
Sometimes it takes a lot to realize that you're stalling... it's harder when there's no one to articulate it for you, when you won't hear it yourself, but eventually, we do tell ourselves these truths...

I am glad for your excitement. The news cycle in the last year has depressed and dismayed me, and I, too, have retreated into research - because GETTING THE DETAILS RIGHT seems like something I can do. Changing the world or even saying something relevant about it at present: not so much...
Aug. 6th, 2015 01:52 pm (UTC)
Re: A clear excuse to watch Mary Poppins
Indeed, I ought to put the movie on soon. Though I sing "Sister Suffragette" quite often, or declaim "Votes for Women! Step in time ..."

And it was a combination of stalling and of trying to force everything into a vessel that was simply too small.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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