How To Avoid Wringing Your Hands
Sunday 15th May 2016 1:46pm
Successful writing is that about which you still feel good when it's complete.
Good writing is that which you feel bad about completing.
Good successful writing screws us up.
Like people, writing is self-contradictory. Orthogonally challenged. Born in opposition.
A man is simultaneously the hermit and the husband of the household. An individual and a citizen. Isolated in the throng.
And so for me a poem becomes viable with but two possessions. That from within, a seed of self. And that from without, an inspiration. These things are co-incident in 'the sweet spot' where our self-identity and our place in society render a work as immediately personal and public in nature.
The inspiration is easy to come by for it needs to be something that is clearly visible to the majority. In fact it is all you can do to keep from banging your head repeat-ably on all of the inspirations hanging around. But the thing about inspirations is, that they are sharp. Short even.
They can be adverts, similes, headlines, lyrics, sayings, jokes, acts, pictures, erections or tears. Pretty much any mote of humanity.
The seed may or may not be known initially. Certainly it is harder to see or catch, and it is more resistant to invocations by the consciousness. It defies description and categorisation. It is a thing utterly unique and as such, like a demon, it can only be known by its own true name. It is a piece of self cut just small enough to still be like no other piece of self or no other piece of others.
The thing about seeds though, is you don't dig them up if you want them to grow.
But at some point I'll take an inspiration and I'll twist it around some focal point.
Sugar in the morning.
Sugar in the evening.
Sugar at suppertime.
Be my little sugar.
And love me all the time...
Fuck it in the morning
Fuck it in the evening
Fuck it at anytime
You're not gonna fuck up
This little ol' life of mine...
In the case of this poem the inspiration is some sickly ancient popular music 'hit'. Oh joy, joy, happy joy. The seed is informative, it drives the dour twist on the words but is largely unknown until denouement at the finale.
...I think that I have fucked up
This little ol' life of mine.
The seed is often expressed directly in only a single word, phrase, line or at most, couplet. It must not be too fat, or else the whole work will sag into the mire of the self. And for poets that typically means the mire of self pity.
On its own the inspiration can be too obvious. Too cheap. Too cheesy. The seed can give it smarts, a unique slant.
By positioning my work in a plane prescribed by the orthogonal values of self and society I hope to make them at once accessible and meaningful.
The inspiration is from the big out there. It can be as shocking, painful or joyous as I like because by its nature, it isn't my fault it exists. My only responsibility is to twist it somehow around the very smallest possible piece of me.
Or so I try. But they still do sometimes ban me.