It all started after Christmas, though you could say it had roots as far back as my set dancing years more than two decades ago.
In that end of year time of looking both inward and ahead, I decided another season had come to do something more for my writing, so one evening in front of the fire I signed up for a poetry taster workshop and a one day travel writing workshop with the Irish Writers Centre.
I barely made it to the the taster session the day after I returned from my Dad’s memorial in Canada but this short course propelled me into signing up for a February/March six week workshop with facilitators Jessica Traynor and Adam Wyeth. I did hesitate, knowing my main feelings were exhaustion and overwhelming-ness, but “It’s just six weeks,” I told myself with a swift kick.
Like any good workshop it was all workshopping: there were 12 of us each week bringing a poem for the others to discuss, but with so much material and not enough time, we enforced strict boundaries (mostly time limits and not getting to comment on every poem) to get through it all.
They can be terrifying at first, but workshops are one of the best ways I’ve found to make strides with your writing:
- They make you listen to your own work and to others’, and to read carefully and considerately.
- They give you a sense of your work away from the closed room where it appears – often other readers notice things that you never saw, or meant, sometimes even in a good way!
- They help you hone your own reading skills, seeing what a simple change can make to an end result.
- They coach you in kindness and honesty.
Really, workshops are a sort of hot yoga for writers: stretching muscles and creating shapes that you never thought you could.
My first evening at the workshop, I heard a voice that I recognized. When I saw the speaker I recognized him as well: but from where? My mind reeled back until it came to set dancing classes in Brooks Academy in the pipers’ club on Henrietta Street: Bill!
I did not know that Bill wrote poetry, but it turns out he’s been doing a series of biting, politically-inspired, humorous pieces for YouTube, and certainly has the fodder for it now.
Toward the end of the six weeks, Bill invited me to submit a couple of my poems to a poetry circle he is in; they were looking for a couple of new people and he thought I’d fit. Again, time and energy seemed to be the things trying to hold me back, but knowing the great things that can come out of writers’ groups – workshops with relationship – I knew I had to take this as a gift.
From writing no poetry two years ago, to writing a couple of poems over months, to writing one every couple of weeks, plus editing the ones already workshopped, poetry has just become a bigger thing in my life.
So as one thing leads to another, and as some things take more time than others, this is a lengthy explanation for the decrease in posts on this blog recently. However, the Circle doesn’t meet for the summer, so I’m getting a chance to work on the poetry and write a few blog pieces too.
Strangely, perhaps, I have been inspired by an article I recently read about aiming for rejections. This is the advice: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.” So far this year I only have 10, but I’m working on more!
And as one thing leads to another, you just never know.