April Blog: Unexpected Poems

The second draft of Attrition is progressing well, although I’ve been re-reading it more than re-writing it at present. This is the part of the process where I veer from hating it to loving it on the flip of a coin. There’s a lot of note taking involved. Some of it is just tightening up the topography of the story world, some of it trivial such as ensuring the children’s ages and behaviours remain consistent or that the dog’s name doesn’t suddenly change in Chapter 4. Then there’s the big stuff, like character motivation and the general story arc. Why is she doing this? What are her goals? How is she changing? These are the questions I’m faced with at the moment. Some are easy to answer but some require me being tough with myself and making sure that the story actually works.

I’ve already earmarked twenty thousand words for deletion from the beginning of the story, following the mantra ‘start later’. This is one of those decisions I’d rather not have to make but I feel it’ll make the story tighter overall. Some of those twenty thousand words will be reworked into the story at a later stage, as they contain necessary information, but it’s still a huge chunk in one fell swoop.

As I begin the actual writing of the second draft I’m going to pare the story right back to focus just on Kitty, my protagonist. This means I’m cutting, at least for now, the secondary story line centring around Kitty’s mother. I’m sorry to see this go but I think it’s worth doing, even just as a trial to see how it works out. If the overall story is better without this secondary plotline, then great. If I feel that I have taken something special away, then I’ll look at bringing it back, possibly in a slightly different format. It’s a bit of trial and error but the only way of knowing if it works is to do it and see what happens. It is laborious but at least it can be reversed if need be.

As if the wasn’t enough I decided (very last minute!) to take part in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). NaPoWriMo is a creative writing project held annually in April, the goal of which it to write a poem each day for one month. It’s similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), held every November. I joined a NaPoWriMo Write Off Facebook group, run by award winning poet Angel T. Carr. An in-depth daily prompt was posted by Angela every day over the course of the month (last one tomorrow!) and participants shared their daily offering via the group (although sharing was not essential).

What I really liked about this group was that it was a very positive environment and the whole point was to write something rough – it didn’t have to be a final polished poem. I was nervous at first about sharing something that was in its very early stages but as soon as I got going and realised everyone else was in the same boat it was fine. There were some days I was more than happy to share my work, other days I did so with much reticence but I was always glad that I did. I am happy that I was able to write and share daily- while this is the point of the group it was by no means an unbreakable rule and taking a few days off was not a problem if needed.

As the month draws to a close, I will have 30 (!) first draft poems that I didn’t have last month. Some will never see the light of day again, others I’ll fix until they are irrevocably broken. Seriously though, there are definitely a few that I will redraft and work on when I can. I even wrote a poem about the process of writing Attrition.

To find out more about Angela, read some of her work, and explore upcoming events/groups she’s running, visit her website or follow her on social media. Angela also posts an amazing monthly round-up of poetry competitions, writing submissions and opportunities on her blog.

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