Saturday, 25 June 2011

Thinking aloud

Introspection can be a good thing. So often we spend our time rushing from one place to another, and we just don’t get the time to process everything that’s happening in our lives. We run at full tilt and then, when we do stop, everything we’ve been dragging behind us catches up and crashes into us.

And it takes time to work through that ‘stuff’ – for me some of it has come out in poems, other stuff has just been splurged onto the page or been unloaded to friends. I think so often we don’t realise how fast we’ve been moving, how much we’ve miss because we simply haven’t had time to notice.

Not only has the hut given me space to sit and write, to rediscover what I need to say, but it has also given me a chance to catch my breath and clear the clutter I’ve accumulated over the last few years. It’s made me realise how important it is to make time to just sit, as well as make the time to write. To just let life flow past for a while and get some perspective. How can we create if we’re clogged with everything that’s going on around us?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Midsummer's day

It’s Midsummer’s Day and its cloudy and grey, looks like rain. I’m guessing that despite it being the longest day of the year, curtains will have to be drawn and lights put on early tonight.

I’m also at about the midway point of my time here – this week is a pivot, tilting into the second half of my time at the Little Blue Hut, and the beginning of the countdown to Christmas (187 days by the way).

The mad outpourings of last week seem to have slowed somewhat, and I’ve taken a little time to go back and read what I’ve written so far, and tinkered a little too. On the whole I’m pretty pleased with what’s emerging, it feels like there is some potential there – I just need to lean into the language a little more, stretch what I’m trying to say (although on some pieces, working out what I’m trying to say would be a good start!).

I actually feel like a writer again for the first time in months, feel like I have something worth saying. I realise for the early part of this year I’ve been writing just cos that’s ‘what I do’ rather than because it’s ‘what I need to do’. The Little Blue Hut has given me back that need to write.

The Hut feels like it’s mine now, and feels like it has a life and personality of its own – I’ve found myself saying ‘hello’ when I arrive, reading aloud to it and almost waiting for a response – it’s a bit like talking to a dog… a big, blue, wooden dog….

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sunset over Whitstable bay

Slow motion and freeze frame...

Sometimes it feels like time slows here. I stare out to sea, lose myself in the pattern of seagulls in the sky, watch people walk, run, bike along the prom, then return to find only a few minutes have past.

If I stare at the clouds they seem unmoving, only changing shape and shifting space while I’m not looking. Gaze at them, play the childhood game, find the shapes, a rabbit, a duck, an old man shouting, close your eyes for a few moments and look back to find a heart, swans with necks entwined, a dragon.

The sea, on the other hand, makes no pretence at staying still, it ripples and flickers, shadows race across its surface, the wind beats a rhythm in blue towards the shore.

I’ve still been free writing – a few times from overheard comments rather than lines of poetry, and sometimes from phrases that seem to rise from the view. I always spend a lot of time looking out to sea anyway, but here and now, sitting staring at it for hours at a time I’ve become fascinated by its surface, how changeable it is, how it reflects the sky above – this seems to recur in my scribbling at the moment.

My work has a tendency to shift towards water or the sea on a pretty regular basis, probably because I’ve always lived close by. Strange as it may seem, I did wonder if it would happen again – I did consider that maybe I’d heard all the beach had to say, that even actually sitting and writing so close, I might not write directly about it. But predictably that’s not the case – the sea and sky, the wind and the clouds are all clamouring to be heard, creeping into everything else I try to write. At first I tried to stop it happening, determined to try a new direction, then realised that was pointless and I’ll write what needs to be written.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

My first week in the Little Blue Hut

The first time I sat in the beach hut and stared out, I felt all the stresses of the day disappear. It was gorgeously sunny, the sea was postcard blue, and there seemed no better place to be. I’ve been down here almost every day, and this first week I’ve been focussing on listening to the quietness around me, letting all the brain chatter we carry around fade away.

I’ve been doing a lot of free writing, a favourite of mine. You take a random line of poetry, write it down, and when you get to the end just keep writing, don’t stop for 10, 15, 20 minutes – for however long you decide in advance. If you don’t know what to write, just write out the line again, and again, and again if necessary – until your pen starts to write something different. The idea is to try and disengage your brain, at least that annoying overly critical part of it anyway. This week I’ve found myself in a trance-like state at times, just watching the words appear on the page.

Most of the stuff I end up with is random rubbish, half of it doesn’t make any sense at all, but sometimes, every now and then, you get a spark, feel that little lurch in your gut when a phrase feels right, or there’s a tiny kernel of an idea emerging. Allowing your brain to wander in this way can generate ideas that may not have appeared otherwise.

My aim for this time I have been given in the hut is to make my critical editor shut up for a while – its been very vocal recently and has stopped a lot of my writing. I’m going to concentrate on using different methods to generate poetry, and focus on getting as many first drafts as possible. While I’m here, I want to use this space for ideas, rather than polishing and editing – I can do that later. There’s something quite liberating about deliberately not looking for a finished piece.