Well, it’s all over. I have survived thirty days of writing a poem-draft every day (or “for” every day), and posting them publicly. What did I learn, what did I gain, what did I lose, and was it worth it?
Certainly the challenge of a poem every day was harder than I expected. Having only just emerged from the two-year near-drought that followed our coming back to NZ, the simple need to generate that much material was quite tough. But I did it, and I now have the starts of what may become some very good poems. Wouldn’t I have written them anyway?
Hmm, no, probably not. One or two, maybe. The ones that came from ideas I’d already had scribbled down somewhere. Although it would probably be a couple of months (at least) before I got around to them. Life tends to get in the way.
I’ve also learned how much ego I have bound up in my editing skills. The last four or five months in the UK before I submitted my thesis and manuscript for the MPhil was spent pretty solidly in editing. Every. Single. Poem. In. The. Collection. I somehow managed to distill everything I’d learned down to a two page list of ‘questions’ to interrogate each poem with, and that’s what I did. Insanely detailed. Stupidly picky. I called it my bastard edit, and I could only get through a maximum of two poems a day. With the whole day to spend on that and only that. Like I said – insane. I ended up with a damn good collection, but I burned myself out. And I’ve clung to that rigor as a banner of pride ever since – tragically, I felt that I had something to lose, and I was not going to let that happen. (Put a rough poem out in public? You’ve got to be joking!)
But, again, I did it. But that was probably the least enjoyable part of NaPoWriMo for me. Still not sure what my ‘lesson’ from this should be – don’t take myself so seriously? (Not bloody likely – if I don’t who else will?) How about ‘accept the imperfect, strive to improve, and take pride in the process’? That one I can live with.
And I’ve had the chance to read a lot of fascinating poems that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I’ve felt part of a community, and enjoyed that sensation (given my natural hermit-tendencies, this is a surprise for me).
It was worth doing, I think. Even on the days when all I could produce was rubbish, there was something refreshing about the honesty of it all. Nowhere to hide, and no point in trying to. All the excuses for failure that I could ever need, already accepted, rubber stamped and stuck on one of those spike things that you see in restaurants and hotels.
Best of all, I got to feel poetry flowing through me again, almost every day. It’s a heady, addictive thing, and I have missed it so much!
Was it worth it? Yes. Did it cost? Yes. Can I do better some other time? Oh yes!
Will I be back next year?