Sunday, 27 December 2009

the order of things...

I am gathering together short shorts and prose poems written since my chapbook Winter Hands, so I can work on a collection.

I have a hundred pieces of writing, very short, quite short and slightly longer. I'm in the process of sorting them into YES, MAYBE and NO piles,and also looking at how they will hang together in a cohesive and meaningful way.

It's over three years since I was working on the MS for Winter Hands, and it seems such a long time ago, I have only vague memories of how I managed to decide on which poems to include, which didn't fit, which poems might sit well together, an overall shape.

I've been re-visiting my myspace blog (I find it weird and amazing that I started to blog as far back as 2006, and here we are on the brink of 2010). It seems that I printed out all my poems and spread them across the carpet in my old flat, and approached it like a jigsaw - finding which poems worked best at the beginning and end, and then searching for some kind of arc or pattern or theme. Ha! Apparently it gave me a headache, but I eventually got there, so the process must have worked in the end.

I know I had a good editor. We worked through three drafts of the chapbook until we were both happy, and I remember the MS went between us over a couple of months. It started as a full collection of 50ish prose poems, and ended up being a chapbook of 26. I am pleased we were so thorough in our editing, because the ones we cut out were not up to scratch.

Now, I am a different kind of writer, and although I have connections back to the writing in Winter Hands, I want this to be a different and longer collection.

It is interesting appraising my own work,with the distance I have now. For me, Winter Hands was a wonderful starting point. I still love most of the poems, but they feel almost as if they aren't a part of me now, and I have much more objectivity. I can see how it could have been much stronger, given more time for me to develop as a writer.

And now, I'm working on this collection. I have about 35 solid prose poems and short shorts that are on the definate YES pile. I have a whole heap of maybes that need second opinions, or a little more time for me to edit, or decide whether they are strong enough, whether they fit. I'm reading and re-reading, editing and laying them all out like a jigsaw to see if I can find the corners.

Inspired by Nik, I've drawn a rough shape of my collection as it stands at the moment.

Obviously, I have a lot of work to do.

I still feel like a baby writer, crawling across the carpet, trying to find my way across the room on her knees.

I have all the doubts that many writers experience:'Is this good enough?', 'Am I ready?', 'Will anybody want to read this?' and I guess the true answer is I don't know.

But I'm pleased to be at this stage, with three years writing behind me and now some time to reflect, gather, edit, and see what emerges...


Megan said...

I will definitely want to read this Annie


"100 pieces" - please don't exaggerate: you told me there were only 93 ...
I sent someone a prompt recently and she said, "Thanks, I'll have a play," which is the perfect attitude: I hope you'll enjoy playing with the pieces of your jigsaw - enjoy processes as well as outcomes. (If you want - I'm not bossy or anything.)

Nik Perring said...

Me too!


Nik Perring said...

And I love your shape too btw!

annie clarkson said...

Oh, thank you... at least I will have 3 readers!