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Beginning, stopping, going again

This week I began writing my long poem/thing (I really don’t know what it’s going to look like). I’ve been ‘working on it’ for weeks, in the sense that I have had ideas and phrases going round in my head, but on Wednesday, after a lot of laundry and other procrastination, I sat down and created a new document and put words on the page. The feeling after those first few few paragraphs was euphoric – I had broken through the resistance. Yesterday I did another few paragraphs and felt horrible, I still feel horrible and convinced that all my ideas are terrible, and all my other work so far is terrible.

I know I’m not alone in this, and I know – in theory – that it isn’t true. I have a steady publication record and I can remember looking at the same poems I think are awful and thinking that the work was good. I can even remember that the cycle turns and very soon I won’t feel like this, but I can’t make my heart listen to my head. Something I say to myself regularly is ‘trust the process’, and so while I marvel at the tricks my brain can play on me I just try to get on with the process: more reading, more writing.

On Monday night I was chatting to a writer friend at an event and I found myself telling her about my plans – it was the furthest I’d ever gone in sharing my idea and her response was warm and encouraging (thank you Zoe!). I could feel the excitement in my voice and on my face as I talked about what I wanted to do, and I know that it’s right for me to do this and that the work could be good. It’s scary though, as it’s a new direction for me, and not what everyone else is doing. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, but at the same time, that looks so much safer from where I’m standing today.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this – perhaps because I have always believed in setting up some accountability when I take something on, perhaps because I sense that just talking about it is going to help me recapture the enthusiasm and belief in the plan (actually, I do feel better already). In the meantime, the sun is shining and I have written something today and taken one more step. It’s all I need to do.

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