Piggy-back Practice

At the end of last year I was told about the River of Stones, a month-long project organised by the Writing Our Way Home folks. The idea: 1. Notice something properly every day during January. 2. Write it down.

Since I was having a quiet time of writing, and it was the kind of thing I reccommended to other people I thought I’d give it a go. And then to give myself an extra whizz of it, I thought I’d pick one thing to write about every day. I chose the sky.

I managed 23 days out of the 31 in January, which I was very pleased with. What I was more pleased with was the obsessive need I quickly found to write something new, noncliched about the sky every day. I decided as long as it wasn’t a cliche or I hadn’t heard or read it ealsewhere it could be as shit or tangential as I pleased. As I say, I was very pleased.

Not many of the ‘stones’ will ever see the light of a poem in their original form, but the challenge of examining the same rectangle of sky (from my window) albeit at different times of day and come up with something different sharpened my sideways skating skill. After day four I had to come at it from a different way otherwise I was going to never write another word ever…

Now, I realise this is not the point of Fiona and Kaspa’s project (they want to encourage connection), but the take their idea and skewer it to my needs/desire of the time seemed perfectly acceptable in their invisible rule book. I loved the challenge. It took less than ten minutes every day I wrote. It was frustrating. It seemed frivolous most days, but so what? It got me reading what other people wrote about the sky. I bought the met office guide to clouds. I looked at paintings for how they captured the sky. I stared purposefully at the sky almost everyday.

None of this is new, but it was a good reminder of the discipline of observation; and having the changing view helped keep my motivation going throughout the month. Although there were plenty enough grey days.

The Guardian have an irregular poetry workshop, which I also find a great source of skewering other people’s ideas to fit my own practice. It’s my writing pad, after all…

 

Posted by Sarah 6th February 2012

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