Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Purist...Or Just Antiquated?

As I juggle back and forth between writing poetry and book material, I've noticed a funny little quirk that I have (one of many).

When I write poetry, I absolutely have to write with pen and paper. When I write for a book, however, I absolutely have to write on the computer. I won't even brainstorm with traditional writing utensils.

It's very strange, but I actually get writer's block if I try to interchange those methods. On those rare instances when, somehow, I am able to force something out, it's noticeably sub par.

I haven't been able to figure out why this is...I don't know if it's because I actually have different writing styles when I write poetry versus when I write novels or if it's because I'm just plain crazy :) I'm leaning more toward the latter! Honestly, though, when I write poetry, it is not linear at all (no pun intended). I will write a line that I want to start the poem with and then go 2/3 of the way down the page and write a line that I want to appear midway through the poem and then go back up and write the beginning of the poem again and the whole thing ends up being a chaotic mess with chicken scratch ALL over the page--in the margins, in between lines, over and underneath words, but somehow it all makes sense to me.

It is that process, of being able to take the words from all over the place and fitting them together like a puzzle of abstract art where only I know what the final product is supposed to look like that I enjoy most. So, to be confined to the neat little lines and keystrokes on a computer screen just completely constipates my thought process when it comes to poetry.

For novels, on the other hand, I find comfort in that confinement. I feel like that keeps me on track. I have weekly word goals to meet and I can fit a certain number of words on each page--they are great little "mile markers" for me. I also feel like I'm always working toward my goal because there isn't any doodling going on (it's amazing how many times one can mindlessly write their name on a piece of paper when sitting there bored without even noticing), I'm not filling the pages with junk that I have to sift through later for the "good stuff" and I'm making sure that all of my time is being spent productively (which often means shutting down my internet connection because I often lack discipline). Regardless, it gets done :)

Case in is a single page out of one of my poetry notebooks. Can you imagine a novel's worth (90-100,000 words) of this?!?

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