first an amateur

Two straight days of writing for hours (planned and drafted NINE pieces yesterday and finally went to bed at 12:30) left my brain this morning like so much lumpy oatmeal. I woke up from a good night’s sleep still mentally exhausted. So, I knew today would require a different approach.

Step One: Read

I took some time to read the work of others, old and new. Something old? Edna St. Vincent Millay, who I have not read widely enough. Something new? Ben Clark’s Reasons to Leave the Slaughter from Write Bloody Publishing. Reading the work of others always makes me think about their technique. Ben’s book, especially, makes use of unique formatting (poems written in two columns, etc.) that challenges the reader to experience the poems in different ways. I also took a half hour or so to read through email, including one from a colleague with a link to an excellent artistic erasure poem. That hatched another idea.

Step Two: Erasure Poems!

Yesterday, I picked up a giveaway book at the library – a 1974 edition of the How It Works Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia, Volume One, Abacus to Archaeological Techniques. It has great color pictures and a wide variety of weird topics. I chose the first entry page for Alchemy, and I had a lot of fun creating a colorful erasure poem that came complete with illustrations. (I have a few others planned from the book – I will save them for other points in the next week when my brain is weary.) The poem reads:


To prolong life, first

attract the attention

of men steeped in magic.

Embrace the mystical

arts. Practice producing

interest. Turn to nature,

striving towards spirit.

All bodies distill to

other stages. One must

exist which brings

perfection unknown.

Alchemy Erasure

Alchemy Erasure

Step Three: Amateur Status

Being surrounded by art and playing with markers on the erasure poem inspired me to remember the Emerson quote “Every artist was first an amatuer.” I used to love to draw and paint, and since I have been putting my writing first for so long, I haven’t done so in a long time. So today, I played at being an artist. I started with a collage idea to accompany my series of poems that all begin with “we build houses of our bodies.” I like it.

Collage work

Collage work

Then I decided to try and record my surroundings in the writing studio with a small square technique I learned from an artist that visited our middle school several years ago. I focused on honed sections of two things crucial to writing: light and pen/paper. The 3C is the key for the studio (apartment 3, Studio C). I like working with pencil because I can make more mistakes…

Before Instagram - my pencil sketch

Before Instagram – my pencil sketch

Step Four: Make a Writing Plan for Tomorrow

I worked on the Lewis and Clark idea until I starting writing complete crap – that needs a break for a while – so tomorrow I plan to work on some older prose poems and flash fiction attempts that have been lingering on my computer. That will put my brain in a different mode and hopefully be fruitful. I also have several poem packets that need to be checked for editing and prepared for submission. And I am always open to whatever else may pop into my head. For now, I am tired and ready to retire to the most comfortable armchair in the apartment to watch a movie. I will end today with a gratuitous picture of my sleeping dogs, since I miss them and my husband terribly. The dogs get the pic since they will not be upset with me posting them here. 🙂

Gratuitous dog photo

Gratuitous dog photo

Feel free to leave me some comments on my amateur work!


6 thoughts on “first an amateur

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