NaPoWriMo 09 – the post-mortem

joprepowrimo09_redWell, it’s all over. I have survived thirty days of writing a poem-draft every day (or “for” every day), and posting them publicly. What did I learn, what did I gain, what did I lose, and was it worth it?

Certainly the challenge of a poem every day was harder than I expected. Having only just emerged from the two-year near-drought that followed our coming back to NZ, the simple need to generate that much material was quite tough. But I did it, and I now have the starts of what may become some very good poems. Wouldn’t I have written them anyway?

Hmm, no, probably not. One or two, maybe. The ones that came from ideas I’d already had scribbled down somewhere. Although it would probably be a couple of months (at least) before I got around to them. Life tends to get in the way.

joprepowrimo09_blackI’ve also learned how much ego I have bound up in my editing skills. The last four or five months in the UK before I submitted my thesis and manuscript for the MPhil was spent pretty solidly in editing.   Every.   Single.   Poem.   In.   The.   Collection.  I somehow managed to distill everything I’d learned down to a two page list of ‘questions’ to interrogate each poem with, and that’s what I did. Insanely detailed. Stupidly picky. I called it my bastard edit, and I could only get through a maximum of two poems a day. With the whole day to spend on that and only that. Like I said – insane. I ended up with a damn good collection, but I burned myself out. And I’ve clung to that rigor as a banner of pride ever since – tragically, I felt that I had something to lose, and I was not going to let that happen. (Put a rough poem out in public? You’ve got to be joking!)

But, again, I did it. But that was probably the least enjoyable part of NaPoWriMo for me. Still not sure what my ‘lesson’ from this should be – don’t take myself so seriously? (Not bloody likely – if I don’t who else will?) How about ‘accept the imperfect, strive to improve, and take pride in the process’? That one I can live with.

joprepowrimo09_tealAnd I’ve had the chance to read a lot of fascinating poems that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I’ve felt part of a community, and enjoyed that sensation (given my natural hermit-tendencies, this is a surprise for me).

It was worth doing, I think. Even on the days when all I could produce was rubbish, there was something refreshing about the honesty of it all. Nowhere to hide, and no point in trying to. All the excuses for failure that I could ever need, already accepted, rubber stamped and stuck on one of those spike things that you see in restaurants and hotels.

Best of all, I got to feel poetry flowing through me again, almost every day. It’s a heady, addictive thing, and I have missed it so much!

Was it worth it? Yes. Did it cost? Yes. Can I do better some other time? Oh yes!

Will I be back next year?

Hmm …

2 Replies to “NaPoWriMo 09 – the post-mortem”

  1. I did it two years ago, but not last year. I’m not sure if every year would be a good idea, since I’m working fulltime. I think I was more consistent this time, but I didn’t quite reach the highs of the first time, either. On the other hand there are several ideas poems in there that I have some strong ideas on how to edit.
    The best thing that I got out of it is that there is always time to write. Even if it’s ten minutes on my coffee break. Normally, I procrastinate too much, waiting for some mythical day when I’ll have nothing to do but write for hours, and no emotional baggage getting in the way. Often, I’ll have an idea, that I put aside for a “time to write” day, but by the time that comes, all the shininess has worn off my initial spark in its days of tumbling around in my head.

  2. After reading a dozen or so post and poems on your site I find myself impressed with your efforts…I particularly admire your commitment to ruthless and adroit editing. I understand that the last 30 days of posting a poem a day was a challenge to someone like you who takes the craft of writing so seriously. My hope is that it taught you some new freedoms…

    Poet Man

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