I started my first 100 day project a little over a year ago. For three months over the summer, I spent time during the week and much time over the weekends writing first draft poetry in my little black notebook and on my computer.
I feel that summers are fitting for writing first-draft material. You may walk unencumbered in the open air and ruminate and reminisce while drinking in the sun, unworried and unhurried.
The idea behind that first project was to read a poem and write a first-draft stanza in response to that poem. However, as the project wore on, I began mostly writing first-draft stanzas, not as a response to poetry I had read, but more simply based upon thoughts and impressions I had at the time.
I was OK with that … as long as I continued to write. That was the important thing.
For my second 100 day project, I took much of that first-draft material and crafted poems out of it. Additionally, I worked a bit on my novel.
While there were some gaps in my production, overall I was quite happy with the results. I created some pretty good poems (in my estimation, at any rate) and developed a process for writing poetry to boot.
I started yet a third 100 project, but I abandoned it about a third of the way through. Let’s just say that life got in the way.
Well, summer is in full swing. In between projects, I have been writing poetry quite consistently. The habit I feel is ingrained in me now.
Jane Hirshfield wrote in her essay ‘The Myriad Leaves of Words’ that in the Heian court culture of Japan “… no significant experience was to be entire until it had found expression in verse.”
I understand the import of those words now. And whether or not the meaning I imbue into past experience with verse is really real or not does not detract from the effort. If one thinks too hard and too deeply (and honestly) about life, one may draw the inescapable conclusion that it is ultimately senseless … at least, on a cosmic scale.
To find meaning in life, therefore, is an exercise in creativity. It is absolutely necessary, in fact, to maintain well-being and keep one’s sanity. And while this creative effort may not be, in an objective sense, true reality, it is real as real can get. Life really is what we make it.
At any rate, I want to write new first-draft poetry this summer. And I want to continue to work on my novel.
So, without further ado, I’m pleased to present the daily goals for this, my third, one hundred day project:
- To write at least one first-draft stanza each day. This work may be in response to poetry I have read, in which case, I may present that poem. Or it may be in response to a picture or an idea. Or it may just pop out of my head unadorned in all its brash and unpolished glory.
- To write at least 100 new words a day on my novel.
Of course, there may be times when I miss a day or two here or there. That’s to be expected. Make-up work is allowed! I am quite fallible and all too human.
So, there it is. Wish me luck!