We’re now onto the third verse of the poem, and if I thought it would get easier I have been utterly fooling myself. However, at least starting a new verse gave me the perspective to see we’d had one of the problem lines sorted for quite some time, it just needed one more word. Simple.

But now it’s one word that is throwing me off entirely. And when I get like this I’m liable to go back and try to reshuffle everything – as if dismantling what I’ve already created will somehow unlock the key to the part I’m stuck on. I have to admit, however, that I’ve been a bit lax – I didn’t put much of anything into the poem last week, and yet I’ve had the skeleton we’ve begun working on well before the weekend.

Sadly, I think I had fallen into the trap of this being my daily goal – and once I’ve completed a post, that being ‘it’ for the day, sending me to bed with a sense of achievement. Still, even if that’s true, last night’s entry is no less valuable. The whole exercise has challenged me to keep on writing, and I’ve responded by exploring interesting and new places rather than rehashing the same old refrain.

On my way home this evening, though, I felt a different feeling. An excitement, an eagerness to get on with some writing. Once I was in the house and sat in front of the laptop it dimmed, and in the end I’m here writing my daily post later than usual. It would have been a good idea to post early, to go with that eagerness and use these diaries to build on it while de-cluttering my brain so I could get started. Instead, I flailed around and got nowhere.

So this is useful, and could be more so. However, only if I’m keeping myself engaged in what I’m trying to write, the real artefact I’m trying to create, not this raw record of the path I took to get there. W2B was great tonight in actually prompting me to start working with her on the poem, but I know that if I’d followed through on my enthusiasm as soon as I’d got back I wouldn’t be sat here now banging my head against a single, frustrating line.

And frustrating for no real reason that I can pinpoint. I’m failing to learn from my experiences of our revamping of verse 2, when W2B kept badgering me to solidify in my mind what I was trying to express rather than aimlessly casting out possibilities and hoping something might stick like spaghetti to a wall. But she’s only human, and she can’t carry me or cajole me or lend me her strength and insight all the time.

I’m tensed up about it, worrying it and worrying about it not doing what it should be doing. And yet I’ve no concrete idea what it is that the verse or line should be doing. Which is why I’ve turned back to this, and why it’s so useful, a reliable and unfrustratable thoughtsponge on which I can fling my tensions out and see what shapes they leave behind.

We can get there, we can do this, but I’m beginning to feel the deadline approach – though the end of May is way, way off. But if we don’t finish in time to enter the poem in the competition I’ve chosen I’ll be hugely gutted. Best not miss that deadline then. Best keep talking about the best way to get out of this corner then. Best admit this is writer’s block then, eh?

If we were able to gain perspective enough to complete verse 2 – after leaving a line behind – when we’d started to begin verse 3, then ought it not to follow that by doing the best job we can right now (having thought about it more probably than is good) on verse 3 and starting to hit verse 4. Sometimes I look back at verse 1 and all I wish is that the following verses can live up to it. But the only way I’m ever going to know that is if we crack on, and finish.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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