Monday, November 3, 2008

Writing Retreat

This short poem is my first attempt at "meter" in poetry.

Twisting, yearning Madrona peels
back his own red foreskin, exposing
the raw
desire need of the Earth and a sleek
skin of green beneath.

Seems a trifle to belabor for 2 weeks, but the poem's been a learning tool. And once again, I'm attempting to express something about my relationship to desire.

During my 2-week creative residency at Port Townsend, WA, I wrote 3 poems and started a couple others, but primarily worked on my novel, Goodfriend, now 3 years in the making (and officially my longest relationship.) I'm very happy with my progress. In addition to increased wordcount (2 chapters, neither done but both very well-developed), I found my way out of the wilderness. For several months now I've complained of being lost in "Deep Middle Territory," groping my way blindly forward with my story. Or so it felt. But I did some problem solving in Port Townsend. I now believe I'm only 6 chapters away from FINISHED! With Draft 1, that is. I've written 15 chapters so far; only 6 more to go. Not so lost. I have crested the summit and can see the River Jordan.

That's wonderful news to me. I'm happy to leave Port Townsend with a plan of action, re-energized, and re-focused. Time away is a good thing.

I had a 3-bedroom apartment all to myself, with panoramic water view. On clear days, Mount Rainier is visible, plus the Cascade range and the Olympic range on opposite sides of me. If you've never experienced the Pacific Northwest, the landscape is dramatic. We had a peak Autumn this year too. Nothing to rival Vermont, but impressive for this area. The foliage has been a frequent topic of local news. I had sunny days with crisp air and then a few misty, moody days toward the end. Each morning I walked in the woods or on the beach, muttering lines to myself. I sketched. Daydreamed considerbly, and deeply imagined the lives of my characters. Did a lot of soul searching.

The facility is top-rate. There's yoga onsite, an Internet cafe, ok cell coverage, laundry and ATM. On Saturdays I rode a door-to-door bus to the Farmer's Market in town. And on Halloween, I costumed as a dead poet and walked to the waterfront. At some straight bar in town, I danced to a surprisingly great funk band and got as drunk as a living poet on payday. Women hit on me HARD. I'm not used to that.

I reserved the apartment again for this summer, an entire MONTH. Mid-August to mid-September, the peak of New Orleans hurricane season. Yay! I have a hurrication plan! A month is a long time to maintain momentum or to be alone, so I put out the word to 20 writers I know around the country to join me for some portion to write. A 3-day weekend, a week, two weeks. Several writers have replied already. Perhaps by this summer I'll be writing my LAST chapter, or better yet, Draft 2.

No comments: