My favourite poem

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When I first read this poem, I had to go straight back and read it again. And then I burst into tears. And I'm not really sure why. I'm not sure I can articulate it properly. I think it's because it's about looking at yourself and seeing yourself and the words really get to me in a physical way. The 'violently ashamed' and 'bashed that beautiful window' grab me in the chest. I think it's about taking a hold of life. This is the writing that makes me write.

Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In

You simply go out and shut the door
without thinking. And when you look back
at what you’ve done
it’s too late. If this sounds
like the story of a life, okay.

It was raining. The neighbors who had
a key were away. I tried and tried
the lower windows. Stared
inside at the sofa, plants, the table
and chairs, the stereo set-up.
My coffee cup and ashtray waited for me
on the glass-topped table, and my heart
went out to them. I said, Hello, friends,
or something like that. After all,
this wasn’t so bad.
Worse things had happened. This
was even a little funny. I found the ladder.

Took that and leaned it against the house.
Then climbed in the rain to the deck,
swung myself over the railing
and tried the door. Which was locked,
of course. But I looked in just the same
at my desk, some papers, and my chair.
This was the window on the other side
of the desk where I’d raise my eyes
and stare out when I sat at that desk.
This is not like downstairs, I thought.
This is something else.

And it was something to look in like that, unseen,
from the deck. To be there, inside, and not be there.
I don’t even think I can talk about it.
I brought my face close to the glass
and imagined myself inside,
sitting at the desk. Looking up
from my work now and again.
Thinking about some other place
and some other time.The people I had loved then.
I stood there for a minute in the rain.
Considering myself to be the luckiest of men.
Even though a wave of grief passed through me.
Even though I felt violently ashamed
of the injury I’d done back then.
I bashed that beautiful window.
And stepped back in.

—Raymond Carver, 1985

Blogs and Courses

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So there's a new blog out there for writers and I'm interested to see how it will develop. I'll be watching closely Wordsmith Lane! It sounds really exciting.

'Wordsmith Lane will be launching this July, so stay tuned for some interviews with great writers, lessons on getting into the writing game, and all the latest news concerning the written word.'

I started this blog because I want to have greater contact with other writers and learn more about my own writing. So Wordsmith Lane sounds great.

Also I'm thinking about enrolling in a course at the CAE, the short story course. It's a fair whack of money though. I just work so much better with deadlines and other writers to inspire me. What do you think?

if he is just waking

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A fragment which may become a longer story. What do you think?

She wakes and feels the fog around her already.

Her thighs smack together loudly as she walks out to get the clothes off the line. She wears only a towel. It blows around in the wind. Her wet hair drips water down her back. She goes inside and dresses herself.

The train lumbers through the just-lit neighbourhoods and she wonders if he is just waking. She tries to hold onto the metal bars of the train but her hands are sweaty and they slip. She hates the quiet of a crowded train, so many people but so little noise.

The house is still there when she gets home. No lights are on. She walks around it and turns the lights and heaters and radios on. Her fingers itch for buttons and switches. For light and heat and noise. Her bed is made and she sits on it for a while looking at the mirror and watching the mobile spin. He isn't there.

Creative Writing Workshop Tomorrow!

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I organise a creative writing workshop at the City Library, which is 253 Flinders Lane. It runs every second Wednesday from 6 to 7.30pm in the Group Study room which is upstairs to the right when you walk in. But the lovely library staff will be able to help if you get lost. The next one is tomorrow, June 10th.

The workshops are free and are designed to be non-hierarchical. By which I mean that it isn't about one writer giving a workshop to others, but about a group of writers writing together. We don't do any workshopping of creative work, rather we do creative writing exercises designed to provoke and stimulate ideas. It's a way of continuing the creative process for people who don't feel they have much time or ideas. It's also open to any level of writer and we try and make sure it is a safe space. You never have to share any work you write so there isn't any chance of feeling anxious about that.

So come! We are always looking for new people. Contact me (maddie.crofts@gmail.com) if you have any questions. But it's so much fun you must come!

A couple of fragments and something poem shaped.

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So I think I've been putting off posting anything creative on here, but that is why I created this blog. So here goes. I welcome any comments.

This is a couple of fragments that have been circling in my brain for a few weeks now.

In the middle of the road the dog pulls hard on the leash and a sharp bark escapes from between his teeth. The owner is yanked forward before pulling back just as hard and the dog's front legs are lifted into the air. The owner smiles, embarrassed. The lollipop lady nods her head. I wait at the lights for the next crossing.

I watch her smoke on the train station platform. She brings the cigarette to her mouth, inhales and then exhales through her mouth and nose. The smoke is quickly stolen by the wind, away from her and away from me. she turns her head to look at me and I look away. she raises the cigarette to her mouth. I want to snatch her cigarette and throw it onto the tracks.

When I get home I close the bathroom door. I turn the shower on and let the room fill with steam. The figure in the mirror becomes foggy and indistinct that way. Nothing more than a vague outline of a body.

___

I did an exercise tonight where I focused on an object found in my house. It was my friend's tobacco pouch. This is the poem I wrote in the ten minutes after focusing on the object. (Disclaimer: I don't smoke!)


You left your tobacco here,
you call just to let me know.
But I'd noticed already.

The yellow packet stands out
on my kitchen table.
Soft and pillow shaped.

I feel like a cigarette
but you didn't leave any filters.
I was never any good at rolling anyway.

I lean against the back step
leaving the door open wide.
Touch your tobacco with cold fingers.

Then I did a cut-up exercise where I took the original poem and moved the lines around, trying to make it random and seeing what I got. I think I need to do this more to loosen up my writing.
This was the result.

but you didn't leave any filters.
you call just to let me know.
I lean against the back step
The yellow pack stands out
You left your tobacco here
I feel like a cigarette
But I'd noticed already.
on my kitchen table.
leaving the door open wide
Soft and pillow shaped.
Touch your tobacco with cold fingers.
I was never that good at rolling anyway.



Birthdays, Books and Birds.

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Yesterday was my birthday! I turned 22 and to celebrate I received 23 books. That's right. 23. Mostly from my parents. Amazing!

Lots of these books are about writing and books. For example:

The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers

The Memoir Book by Patti Miller

The Fiction Writers' Handbook by Nancy Smith

Bibliotopia compiled by Steven Gilbar

The new edition of Torpedo

Style Manual sixth edition

And the one I'm reading now bird by bird by Anne Lamott. The title comes from a story she tells to her creative writing students about her brother.

...thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd has three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

Which perfectly describes my feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed when I sit down to write lately. So I'm trying to write small passages as much as I can. And concentrate on the sentences and constructing good sentences.

What books about writing have you read? Have they been any help?

Blogging Tips?

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So being new to this whole blogging thing (except for a few failed times in the years past) I thought I should ask for any advice or tips that you've got?

I've also just started using Twitter, so any advice on that as well?

Let me know blogosphere!