Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Project Failure

Yes, I wrote haiku in a spare address book.
Wasting stationery is a sin, damnit!
Just to clarify; this post is about a project that failed, not about 'Project Failure', which is something entirely different... By the way, if one tries to fail, and fails, has one succeeded?

Enough! On with the post:

You may have seen me talking about my 'yearly projects' before (I've done 'diary a day', 'line a day' and, last year, 'haiku a day'. Well, basically, I'm declaring last year's one a failure. Although I'm guessing I wrote well over 365, the aim was to write at least one every day. It was more about the discipline of sitting down every day to write, not the amount I produced. As usual with these things, I ended up messing up here and there, having a few days where I hadn't written anything, then having to catch up. I came to accept 'slipping' as part of the process (hey, life gets in the bloody way, alright!), but I knew there had been a lot of slippage since I last looked. About a week ago, I thought I'd go back and finish it off. The last entry I made was on the 15th of November... I decided not to carry on.

On the plus side, I think there's a couple of decent haiku what I did. However, my tendency to make them 'about the day', i.e. 'plot-based' (rather than about the image or setting) often hampers them. I realise, when I go back to reading other people's, that there's a massive gulf between most of what I write and the potency of the form done competently. The same can be said with respect to most writing, but there's something about this whole 'daily thing' I've been doing that can make it hard to see the wood for the trees. You know, you sort of spiral down into a 'just do it' mentality, rather than what normally happens spontaneously which is more, you get an idea every so often and think 'I might have something here', then you put it down on paper. But again, I suppose reading is a good guard against that 'spiral', and conscious concentration, so it comes down to my personal incompetence, really.

I find the whole analysis of it more and more distasteful as I try and look at it. What's wrong with intuition, just doing things? Well, that doesn't seem to be enough for me... I can at least say that writing a lot, regularly, is good for stamina (or rather, I've found it to be so). The real problem here is that I can't comment on much else, because I'm hardly in a position to say 'my writing's getting better', and even if I was, I don't think it has. And that's the big issue for me; I was less concerned with how these projects turned out - whether they could be deemed a success in and of themselves - but was hoping it would have wider-reaching implications for my writing as a whole, and I don't think that's the case. The 'haiku' thing may have been good to try and sharpen my viewing [of the world] process, but it didn't encourage any serious engagement [with poetry, or writing, as a whole]. And yes, I can use these haiku for another project [collaboration with the self, as Richard Barrett had it], but I want to stop building this material up and kidding myself that, if that's all I've come up with, it's been worthwhile. If I make a good poem out of it, then groovy, but right now my effort has been poor and I've got little to show for it.

Since giving up on the latest project, I've still been writing. Not enough, I'd say, especially given that hours in my job dried up in January, so I've had more time to do what I want (what's necessary, even?). I think the idea of putting tasks into your diary is good, as it can help you 'ring fence' time. In this respect, I need to take my own advice, because I do suggest it to others, but haven't done it myself. Then I wonder why I hate myself, and why I have to write another blog post like this!
This year I was going to plan something, like a poem a week (finished, that is, or to a decently-edited degree), or something like that. That's a good target - more than, on average, what I would normally be doing (I can write new stuff at that rate, sure, but it's the editing where I come a cropper). Then I did nothing. Had no specific, long-term fixation. I want to say that not having a project has felt liberating, or I've put more energy into something else, but neither's true (well, except for more social pursuits and the recent collaboration).

It must be time to wrap this solipsistic sh1t up... I never think I'm doing enough. I find targets helpful but sometimes I set myself big and slightly inflexible ones. So maybe I should do a weekly quota/target? Something less rigid, with more chance for affirmation (things are lonely enough without doubting yourself...). I know some people might find it pathetic that I have to go through all this, but then there are other writers that I speak to who find they need deadlines and extra motivation to get to solve their craft problems. I'm struggling a bit, for sure, but at least it's not a struggle from the bottom (i.e. doing nothing) up. It's a struggle from the near-bottom up. Hey, that was almost positive!
I always try and find justification for my posts, otherwise (by and large...) I don't publish them, and I think that is why I write about these projects. Anyone reading can see another perspective on the struggle for production, and certain other aspects of the work. Hope this one's helped, even if only in a small way!

Peace, love and light.

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