Playing with Words

Our Citroen is sick and Lester-the-Fiesta, our back-up banger, has also kicked up and demanded new, expensive parts. Just what we needed in January. Fortunately, my last couple of long runs have gone well, which is a blessed relief.

Something which is proving an absolute joy, is the poetry component of my OU course. One of my reasons for studying creative writing was to work outside my usual areas and whilst I’ve always dabbled with poetry, it’s a long time since I’ve produced any for outside scrutiny. It’s been great to have the luxury of immersing myself in other people’s work. Tom gave me a brilliant anthology which included DVDs of poets reading their work which has been a wonderful resource (Pamela Robertson-Pearce (film), Neil Astley (ed.), In Person: 30 Poets (2008) Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books).

The only problem with soaking up so much verse is that I’m beginning to feel a bit daunted about the next assignment which is to produce 40 lines of poetry. I felt less nervous when I was bumbling along throwing down a couple of lines here and there. And whilst I studied English at school without being particularly unnerved about the technical stuff, this time round I’m suddenly hyper-aware of just how many balls a good poem keeps in the air.

On the fiction front, I’ve screwed up my courage and entered Mslexia’s short story competition and I’ve submitted another for consideration for Honno’s next fictional anthology. Now it’s time to crack on with the next novel. I spent ages yesterday looking at 20,000 words of a novel I’ve been tinkering with for years; part of the problem is that it needs major surgery but I love it too much to take the knife to it. I’ve also got 5,000 words of a new novel that just isn’t doing it for me… and if it doesn’t work for me it sure as hell isn’t going to work for any reader. Ah well, I can’t put it off any longer. Expect the word meter to go up soon.

The painting is 'St Giles-in-the-Adverts' by Tom Tomos


Mummy said…
I love the painting, Chris.

I think a lot of people are feeling the same way at the moment. I suppose, subconciously at least, we expect new year, new enthusiasm, new project......but there are the old ones staring back at us with exactly the same problems they had in December!

I hope your poetry goes well! How daunting, but very exciting too! Cna't wait to hear how you get on!
Salle de Bain said…
How nice to be surrounded by words, poetry and literature! It's not a field I know well, but I am always in awe at the time it must take to write a book...and the amount of self discipline you must need!! I'd be no good at that..too easily distracted!!

Good Luck with the competitions and the inspirational thoughts!!
Elizabethd said…
What a beautiful painting, one that I could happily live with.
Your course sounds very fulfilling. I'm not sure that I could produce poetry now.
Lane said…
I did Mslexia too, by the skin of my teeth. Not a chance in hell but I enjoyed having the deadline.
Good luck with the poem Chris. I still don't know what makes a 'good' poem but philistine that I am, I know what I like.

Hope Lester and Citroen are behaving soon, at not too much cost.
JJ said…
Good to hear about the Mslexia comp. I'll be watching the word count...
Preseli Mags said…
Oh empathy over cars. Freddie the red Ford is in the garage right now having his brakes done. I just asked Brian how he was planning to pay the bill...
It's brilliant to hear that you've sent work to Mslexia and to Honno. Good luck with both. And good luck with the poetry too. Scary to move out of the comfort zone of prose (but I bet you can do it!)
Pondside said…
Poetry - I'm an admirer from afar. I never actually chose to read poetry, but when it's presented I'm always stunned at the beauty of the words and the order and the rythm.
Cars - grrrrrr - big sympathy!
Milla said…
I'm quite taken with that Carol Ann Duffy book, Answering Back which features many well known poems, "answered back" to by modern ones. However, I wouldn't seek out poetry to sit down with. Too impatient.
our car cost us £300 in new tyres on Saturday. It meant we parked free while leaving the brute in kwikfit but am still smarting at that much money just flying out.
Know what you mean about not wanting to waste thousands of words. You should see my computer files! The amount of abandoned stuff, started with high hopes, discarded with cold tears of boredom. Why DO we do it?
Frances said…
Hello Chris, and congratulations on setting yourself all those new year's challenges.

Hoping that one of those vehicles (cars) will be up and running soon. Know that you will always keep up and running, and writing, and writing, and being such a generous soul.

liz fenwick said…
Good luck with the poetry. Remember to kill your darlings - i'm doing that at the moment. What is it you that love about the book? What doesn't work. Save a new copy and take the love and cut the doesn't work and run :-)
mountainear said…
Good luck with all your projects. Your creative life is going to be interesting over the coming months.

(Sounds much more desirable than fixing cars.Hope you get them running by the way.))
Debs said…
I've got two lights flashing at me in my car - have been doing so since last summer - and one of the windows refuses to open. I keep promising to get it all sorted, but that costs money!

Well done with the submissions.
LittleBrownDog said…
Goodness, is there no end to the wonderful succession of Tom's gorgeous paintings we're treated to every week? How on earth does he find the time to be so prolific, and so prolificly good?

And am seriously impressed by your literary discipline, too. Love poetry - both reading and writing it - although never reached much of a pinnacle of excellence in either. Seriously good luck with the short story comp - I'm so looking forward to reading some of your fiction.

BT said…
That is a beautiful painting Chris. I love it.
I am so glad you are enjoying your OU course. Just sit down and have a go with the poetry. I have written some in the past and occasionally one that I've been really pleased with. But a novel. Oh no. I wish you good luck with the short stories you have written
bradan said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
bradan said…
Sorry that was me deleting, can't spell....or prob need specs actually!

I am a sort of poetry lover, but a bit picky! Good luck with all your projects and I hope your cars are sorted soon, too.

Really love this week's painting, in fact my Purplecoo 'Homework' for this week is Tom's paintings, hope you don't mind! xx
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
I love reading poetry, but have no aspirations towards writing it - far too difficult. Good luck with your comp/anthology entries.
ChrisH said…
Mummy, yes I think you'r right, a lot of us are finding it hard to go for it. Thank you for the painting comment.
Salle de Bain - that's good coming from you, the woman who spends hours staring at the ground :)! I wouldn't have the patience to do you what you love doing.
Elizabethd, thank you! I'll pass the comment on.
Lane, oh well that's me blown out the water then! Well done for getting something in. (Citroen still on critical list, Lester out of danger... at huge expense).
JJ - yes, I'm going to do it as soon as I've finished this.
Mags, naughty Freddie - must be all the miles we'e clocked up round here trying to see various doctors!
Pondside... erm, I don't think my poetry will do that for you!
ChrisH said…
Milla, yes I like Carol Ann Duffy. Berludy cars, eh? Now, you, dear heart, have some seriously good stuff in those words so, courage, mon brave, go and sort the berludy things out.
Frances, thank you - I'm blushing.
Liz, you are a treasure - you've given me a lightbulb moment and I will do what you've suggested, Thank you.
Mountainear! Salve amica (gawd, I don't think that's right - Mr Mulhern my old latin teacher would be crying). I think you've got quite a lot of interesting and creative projects on too.
Debs, aren't they beastly? Here's hoping the writing brings you in plenty of money to stop the lights flashing - well, the ones in your car anyway.
LBD, Thank you - Tom just loves painting.. he isn't nearly as good at selling them but he's only really interested in the process itself. And thank you from me - I'll let youknow when the rejections start flowing in!
BT, thank you for that. I'll take your advice about the poetry... ooooh! Here goes!
Bradan - thank yous so much for the very kind comments about Tom's paintings both here and over at Purple coo. He's very chuffed.
Zinnia, I bet you could write poetry (mind you, I bet you've also heard some terrible stuff in the course of duty!). Thanks for the good wishes.
elizabethm said…
I am quite tempted by your OU course. I think I would only ever have a go at poetry if someone made me do and yet I love reading it and used to write it copiously as a teenager (yes indeed, it was dreadful). Good luck with it and with the novel. I would go with the 20000 words - that has to be able to go somewhere, surely?
Love the painting too.
Fennie said…
Yes, I wrote copiously too in my late teens - yards and yards of blank verse, some of it quite funny; all of it bad. I've got a Citroen too - a Picasso. usually they are reliable so I do hope you get it sorted out. Pregnant YD (still pregnant as I write,) has a Fiesta.
Un Peu Loufoque said…
Eldest had to write a poem in Spanish last night for homework, 40 lines on christmas ( floowing teh same ryming patterns of a given example) and its meaning contrasting rich and poor experiences in mexico...hmmm, poerty must be the new thing in Europe I suspect!
nimblejacks said…
Chris, enjoy Bellowhead! Fakenham Fair is a track that tickles me as I used to live right there!!! very Norfolk:D Remember the crystal, oh and the fact it never worked phew!!
Have a great time there. The gallery took all the brooches and I got a custom order from the owner for some biggy 5" felt flower brooches for her too. A good day so far..xxclaire
Cait O'Connor said…
I love the painting Chris.
And the poetry anthology sounds a good one, I will look that up. I do envy you doing an OU writing course. Good luck with all your projects.
Flowerpot said…
wonderful painting, Chris and so glad to hear the poetry is inspiring you. Well done! And best of luck with the competitions.
Sally's Chateau said…
Lester the Fiesta sounds rather like Vic the VW languishing in the South of France and demanding updates !! PAH. How are you this morning ?
ChrisH said…
Elizabethm, I know you're always busy but when you get the chance I'd recommend the OU course - it's got my creative juices flowing again (oo-er!).
Fennie, yes, our Berlingo has been brilliant but now needs work - but will have to put it off until next month.
UPL, I think I'll stick to English for now - yikes!
Nimblejacks, they were amazing - I thought of you when they played Fakenham Fair!
Cait, thank you and yes, the anthology is well worth looking at. I'm very fortunate being able to do the OU course.
Flowerpot - thank you and for you words of comfort.
Hi Sally, slightly less wounded today except for the fact that my ancient laptop has now turned on me!

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