Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Thoughts on the NaPoWriMo experience

I cannot believe a whole month has gone by, that I managed to post something everyday and now it's all over.

Let's unravel that. There was one day when I didn't post because I couldn't understand the prompt but we had an amnesty day when we could catch up, revisit a prompt we missed or post another poem we had written during April. Strangely, that was the poem that caught the most attention. I didn't think it was that good. Seems I cannot be the judge of my own work!

I've taken part in NaPoWriMo twice before, I think, but working with The Poetry School was the best experience ever. I got feedback on every poem and had the chance to do the same with my fellow writers. It felt as if friendships were forming. They were a great bunch to work with.

Occasionally I posted rushed pieces due to my own time constraints. Writing a poem in around ten minutes is really scary. There's no time to edit properly, no time to let it sit. When there was time I tried to write and then leave it for a while and go back for a last look and edit before posting. I must say I was pleased with what I wrote last month. Some of my favourite prompts included writing a Pantoum - see example here. Basically a Pantoum is a series of quatrains where the second and fourth lines are repeated as the first and third of the next. Drove me crazy but the result was great and worth the effort. There was another (forget the name of the form) where you rearranged the word at the end of a line to anagram of it at the end of the next! Good on them The Poetry School supplied an online anagram site which I used as I am hopeless at anagrams. I ended up with a very crazy poem about sleeplessness involving Klingons eating fruit pies! It made people laugh anyway.

My work ranged from the downright stupid to love, loss, nature and Gothic darkness. Blank verse completely floored me and I ended up with something people liked despite my metre hiccups. There was also the random word poem (I use this when I get stuck for ideas). A list was supplied but the difference here (to the way I've done this before) is to then think of the first word that comes into your head on reading each word. The words you thought of are the ones you use in the poem. Then there was the writing a poem to music . I write to music about 90% of the time so I thought this would be easy. Ha! Strange, when you have to do it seems my mind goes blank. I often choose music to suit the mood/atmosphere I'm trying to convey when I write and this time I started with a music I used for the draft of dark novel I wrote. The poem was....dark! Tried again. Still not happy. All doom and gloom. Switched to Pachelbel's Canon on D Major and I got something very different and this was the one I posted.

Yesterday was the last day and the challenge was to take one poem, brush it up and submit it to a magazine! Well, I did submit yesterday to two different places. Two poems were ones I wrote as part of NaPoWriMo. However, I have yet to find somewhere suitable for the one everyone raved about. I need to choose wisely.

I already miss the daily log on to see what the prompt of the day is, and I miss my friends there, though the course is being left open for people to still use. This course did three things for me - it got me writing daily, it got my poetry seen by more people who gave me constructive feedback and I realised that I can write poetry! I may be struggling to get into magazines and win prizes but people seem to enjoy what I write. I'm someone who needs motivation (I write my best then)  and feedback or I slip into the pit of despair when time and time again I receive rejections (though I know I'm not alone in this). When I signed up for NaPoWriMo I wasn't sure what to expect but it's been a positive month and it's left me with the desire to carry on writing poetry.

Looking at my submissions book I see that I have a steady output of around three or four submissions a month. I don't set out with a target anymore. I do it as and when. Everything I submitted last month was poetry! So, I'd certainly recommend The Poetry School for next year if you want to get writing poetry in a friendly group. It be manic at times but it's also fun.

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