Updated: Feb 19
It's not often I have a spare day at the moment. And in honesty, if I do, it’s not really to ‘spare’.
I have a collection to work on, future collections to plan and structure, other fiction projects to get on with (she says...), a day’s response to write and type and edit and revise and post for #30dayshmr, social media duties (I all too often neglect), reading and writing my next couple of blog posts, planning for the next newsletter, planning future long-term goals with strategies and projects, replying to messages and emails, compiling submissions and writing new material (if needed) for them. And this is just hmrwrites.
Now I am not for one minute complaining; hmrwrites and everything that goes along with it is something I am choosing to do. I could very easily not have a blog, shut down my website, or delete my Twitter account, but I have chosen to do these things as my profiles have grown, and I always want to be more active and involved in the poetry and writing communities. I just have an ingrained belief that I have to be doing something.
I have mentioned this kind of thing before, not being able to switch off or allowing myself to burn out, even if I can see the signs and know what will happen.
I’ve touched upon this recently and had messages from a few people who feel the same way; when stress feels natural and being busy is your norm, when you have a period or a moment where this is not the case, you create things to do, in turn giving yourself more stress. This inability to rest is almost a gentle self-sabotage, but it can all too easily snowball into something more negative.
So whilst this all depressing and endless and manic, this belief of having to be busy, the intrinsic need for everything to filter into 'work' somehow, really plays in to me trying to decipher which ‘stories’ (memories, experiences, thoughts or fictional scenarios) are for my poetry, are for my collections or are now for my blog.
Ok, so hear me out. As I'm sure most writers like to experiment with different genres, I'm finding this a lot to get used to. 'Poetry' is a somewhat comfort-zone I've found for myself; it comes naturally and I have a process I can follow. I used to enjoy essay writing during studying, but I'm out of practice and have no criteria or 'end-goal' (of qualifications) to achieve. I'm finding it difficult to juggle my different outlets, but if I didn't have them, I would create more - or others - to avoid having a rest period (or A Spare Day).
With this in mind, I'll give you an example. On my 'Spare Day' - where these terrible photos were taken, and where I was up-to-date with replies, planned posts, written captions and had met the targets for my collections - I chose to get out (shocker I know). On the train up, I met the same conductor I'd met before coming back from London. He recognised me and we had a small conversation. Nothing fairly noteworthy.
However, he is one of the kindest and most genuine-seeming people I have ever remembered meeting. So, instantly my brain decided to make a big deal out of it; I've two interactions with this man I can call upon, how can I make a piece out of this? How can I write about this in a way that is authentic and truly describes him? Can I work these experiences in a way that others can get on board with, or is what I'm trying to do too niche? How can I weave in unknowns; how often the kindest people are the saddest, or those most selfless to others are selfish with themselves? Is he happy, is he sad? Does he have a family? What's his background, why is he a train conductor? Has he always been a train conductor? Is his hair naturally black?
All from 'May I see your ticket please'.
Now I'm sure every type of writer goes through these kind of processes; particularly if they're freelance or using their writing as an all-consuming hobby. Putting boundaries on 'work' and making that distinction clear between 'work' and 'rest' is easier said than done. At the moment for me, when I haven't released new material in what feels like a while (my last collection was released in November), I feel like I have to constantly be putting out new material that serves what people want. Since last year, where I released a lot of work, I have chosen to slow down and hone my work into something that is, hopefully, of better quality.
I have to keep reminding myself that all my 'greats' had periods of years between collections. They probably took months off to realign and gather inspiration, wrote hundreds more poems that ended up as scrap, or had so much more leftover material than I'm having. I also need to better my balance between writing for others and writing for myself; I feel both are necessary to good work and both should be honoured and respected (let me know your thoughts on this below, I'm up for a discussion). I think I am just finding it hard to adjust to having 'Spare Days', what these mean, and how they can actually help my work in the long run.
Until next time, H.M.
References and Further Reading:
- All images are taken from my personal VSCO here.
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