REFLECTIONS ON MY FIRST 100 DAY PROJECT
For my first 100 day project, my aim was to read a poem and write (at least) one first-draft stanza of poetry inspired by that poem. During the course of the project, however, this aim evolved somewhat into writing whole (mostly short) poems (granted, many of these need some work and should probably be expanded), and the poems upon which my stanzas were to be inspired became somewhat ancillary. I found myself writing my own poetry first, and then finding famous poems that were tangentially related, after the fact. This became a bit tedious, and I’m going to drop that requirement in my next project.
Despite this, I did read a lot of poetry and fell in love with some of the great poets, notably Dickinson, Rilke, Housman, Cavafy, Millay, Yeats, Blake, and Whitman.
As the project evolved, I settled into a pattern of writing most of my poetry on the weekend, usually away from home, often in Bloomington (I’m writing this from The Runcible Spoon!).
I found that I must work myself into a certain state of mind to start a poem, or to receive (if that’s the correct word) inspiration, as if from a muse, some words or an idea. It was usually just a line or two. I had to learn not to censor myself, and just let it flow out of me. A lot of it was, to be honest, crap. A line or two, a word or a phrase, might stick, but the rest …, well, it either went into the trash, or was heavily retooled. After that, much of the nitty-gritty work came from moulding that inspired mess of gobbly-goop into something half-way decent and readable. This phase of the work didn’t require the aforementioned inspired state of mind, but a simple kind of steadfastness.
It became a two-fold process. But I’m certain this process is incomplete. I remember that Mary Oliver wrote in her book A Poetry Handbook, that she drags her poems through at least fifty drafts!
So, for my next project, my plan is to fill out this two-fold process with yet another layer of reflection and editing.
THE ARTIST’S LIFE
Often artists are regarded as eccentric by outsiders. Artists often think and behave in strange ways. I used to think that that’s why they became artists.
I wonder now if the reverse is true. Perhaps creating art alters the artist. It is the work that is transformational.
For me personally, it’s a spiritual endeavor, and I think that’s how Rilke, and other poets, considered it, as well.
Without further ado, I’m pleased to present …
MY NEXT 100 DAY PROJECT
One of my lifelong dreams is to write a novel. Many years ago, I started one, then dropped it. I started another, and after many more years, I have only four of five chapters in various stages of completeness to show for it.
Let’s face it, at this rate, I’ll never get it done. My next 100 day project will include work on this novel, which will henceforth be called Novel X.
In addition, I will also continue to write poetry, and to a lesser degree, read poetry (as it pertains to the project; of course, I’ll continue to read poetry on my own). For this project, I will write whole poems based on some of the work that I’ve done in the first project, and also from work that I’ve done in the past.
Here are the specifics:
This project will really be a 105 day project (fifteen weeks), although that’s not as snappy as The 100 Day Project, so I’ll continue to call it the latter.
Each week will consist of the following:
Four blog posts for Novel X, each of which will consist of at least 125 words (half of a page). These 125 words don’t necessarily have to be a polished product, but should, at least, be coherent and grammatically sound.
Two blog posts, each consisting of one poem. In addition to writing the poem, I’m also going to read it, so that you may hear how it sounds in my head. I’ve been told I have a pleasant voice, so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Lastly, I’ll create one blog post where I read a famous poem written by a real poet! I will also include a little history and fun facts about the poet.
At the end of the project, I should have thirty first-draft pages of Novel X completed, and thirty poems.
An ambitious project! But I’m excited to begin it.
Monday, August 28th, 2017 kicks off my next 100 day project! Wish me luck!
The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.