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When not inspired..

I do this:

I don’t quite remember where I picked this technique up from, but I’ve definitely been doing it since my very early twenties. It’s for times when I want to write or think I ought to write, but have no inspiration whatsoever. I’ve also used it as a game to play with friends. Exchanging our word lists and writing poems together. It helps to pass the time on long bus rides and can be quite fun otherwise too.

On the first column you write nouns, trying to empty your head and write down whatever comes up. You must also strive to forget what you just wrote down. That’s key. Then you cover this column with your hand and write verbs in the next one and complements in the third. The less you remember what went in the preceding column, the better it is.

Sometimes it gives me a good line to work with. Sometimes a whole set of lines. Sometimes I have a specific mood/theme I want to do and then I try to keep my words vaguely to that theme, while still emptying my head as much as I can.

Today’s word list didn’t turn out good at all. It felt like there isn’t a workable line in there and certainly no concept I could tie together. The things circled are circled for other reasons (Freudian analysis of repetetiveness for the why not of it).

But then that “Morning closes in a whisper” line didn’t seem so bad, and voila, it gave me what I had wanted and I set to work. I also ended up using it as a word bank. Otherwise “dammit”, “last bus” and “trees” might not have ended up in the poem.

I like this poem so far too. I’m not sure I will like it tomorrow, or next week, but I like the premise and promise of it this moment. And the new kind of tenderness I write with. That I didn’t have before.

I dare to write beautiful things now without flights of whimsy. Pat pat for me.

 

Patterns

I think I just have to accept the cyclicality of my moods and energy levels. Previously I’ve hoped I’d find something to stabilize myself a little, but this hasn’t worked out. While that hope was alive, I wasn’t making the best of any state as far as pursuing my dreams went. In total I experience four states:

1) low energy  + normal mood (most common)

2) low energy + depressive slump (happens)

3) high energy + bad mood (rarest; also known as my masculine energy phase)

4) high energy + high spirits (happens)

 

The problem was (is) that when I’m having low energy + depressive slump I don’t do anything for obvious reasons. I also don’t do anything useful when in a regular low energy phase. The inspiration is not there and everything feels like a chore. I’ve just exited that phase, so my memory of it is fresh. This time there were days I tried to write in spite of having no inspiration. Sometimes I managed to add one or two lines to an unfinished poem. Some of those weren’t half bad, and one line is better than none, but I felt like I had brain fog. It was really hard to be bright.

Typically when these moods go away, and I have high energy (and high spirits) again, I’m so stunned by the contrast that I don’t do anything useful either but spend most of such times being frivolous and rejoicing in feeling like a normal human being.

And that is why: I cannot change the cyclicality of these things, but I can can change how I approach them.

It’s easier with the high energy phases. I manage to work during those periods now because I acknowledge it’s the best time for it and that times like this will come again, so I don’t have to cling to it like someone that found an oasis in a desert. It’d be good for me if I could tune it down a little bit though and not verge on hypomania. But it’s not really a problem. I control it.

What to do with the low energy phases I really don’t know. I’ve been thinking that perhaps it is enough if I use the high energy phases for working on my creative projects and that’d be that. So, essentially stopping to try and beat myself to it during the low energy periods. Typically, I just end up feeling bad about how useless I am and how I’ll never amount to anything. And that can leave a mark on high energy periods too.

So my current strategy is to focus on the high energy periods and use them well. I’ve only very recently learnt to do it and I don’t trust very fresh improvements. So I won’t be adding new changes on top of it yet. Regardless, I do see potential to use the low energy phases better too. Just, go about it slow.

Today is an excellent day, by the way. I feel like I’m coming close to the fun I had in June again, but I doubt it’d last for three weeks ever again. Still, I take what is given. Starlit walks ahead this weekend. And trips and things and my new poem about falling downstairs that I came up with last night and feel optimistic about.

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Other: I’ve been reading Martin Eden and it’s so exactly everything I expected it to be that I don’t even know how to feel about it. I suppose I’d have felt disappointed if it hadn’t been what I expected, but I also feel it’d be nicer, better, if it could exceed these expectations. Or I don’t know. When a classic Western is exactly what I expect it to be, like Stagecoach, I don’t complain. I start complaining when characters are miscast, too cruel, plot is implausible, internal logic is violated, but I never complain when I get the tropes and storyline I wanted to get in a well-executed way.

 

Relatable

(Scott Dikkers, How to Write Funny)

 

This short page very nicely sums up all the thoughts I’ve had in the past two months that have changed my attitude towards being a writer.

When I wrote of my journey in finding what I wanted to do in life, I forgot to include something. It doesn’t flatter me exactly, but I treat it as a necessity in attaining a more realistic perspective. Thing is, I feel absolutely thrilled and full of joy when I discover some poet has written a bad poem or some comedian done a lacklustre sketch. As nasty as it might seem of me to take pleasure in another’s weaker moments, I don’t do it with malice. Rather, it gives me a warm feeling for the person and humanises those I’ve put on pedestals.

What this little snippet also made me think of was that in poetry, as elsewhere, you can’t always get it right, but need to go for the sum total of your work and maintain the standard of that. Last weeks I’ve written a lot and felt quite pleased that I have managed to lift my overall standard and that some of the atrocities I wrote a few years ago I probably would no longer write. Never say never, of course.

The best poets aren’t known for all their poems but a handful of masterpieces. My recent favourites, Crane and Dylan Thomas, can be excessively cryptic. When they manage to be lucid or hit upon the right musicality, it’s a masterpiece, but when they go too far into idiosyncractic shorthands, it’s a bit of a flop in the context of the rest of their work. Their flop would be my success, though.

Anyhow, this comedy book is quite relatable so far. The intro is nice and his style isn’t a tiresomely witty show of his own personality (which, I believe, a lot of such books, as well as self-help books, do suffer from).

What am I doing developing myself in comedy and poetry when I believe these are among my greatest weaknesses? God knows. Trust the process, I suppose. I want to – is my reason.

Beautiful things

It’s strange to look back on the development of a thought and see what unusual detours it made and which connections happened along the way. Mostly such criss-crossing leads nowhere at all, but sometimes they lead up to a personal or general truth. I love those moments when something that was vague becomes transparent like morning dew on a cat’s whisker.

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This morning I daydreamed of wandering around in an abandoned wild garden. I lived next to it as a child, so it is firmly rooted in reality. There was an apple tree in that garden with the darkest red apples I have ever seen. They didn’t taste very good, but they had pink flesh. Very beautiful bright pink like the sunset on a watercolour painting. Our family made preserves of these apples and then their taste changed and became sweet. Such apples I’ve never seen anywhere else. I also explored the abandoned villa on the same property, climbed up a narrow staircase, almost fell, but reached a tower room with windows on all three sides. The windows were not broken, but there were cobwebs, white lace curtains, and street lamps lighting it up like moonlight. I had a companion with me and we had dialogues befitting a symbolist play. How can you not turn symbolist with apples like that? And gardens and rooms like that? It entertained me for 2 hours. Such are my favourite mornings.