12.18.2010

Today's Draft Report: Swimming In Words

I love what can happen when I just let myself swim in a sea of words.  The hard part is to let myself float, tread water, turn circles back and forth, ride on the word-waves, instead of swimming the 100m freestyle with a breath every four strokes, flip turns, and a strong finish.  When I let myself float, tread, turn, and ride, instead of racing, I often end up with a poem.

Today I started swimming in the words of Mary Rose O'Reilley (mentioned last week here).  I made a wordbank out of words that seemed important to her as poet or that caught my interest as reader.  I love what a person can learn from this exercise.  For example:
--She has lots of domestic words (hall, stair, key, window, cup, thread, cellar, apron).
--Her verbs are slide, glide, melt, drift, swim, gaze, stare.
--She has a lot of panes, windows, mirrors, lenses, eyes.
--Her abstractions are soul, will, dream.
--She has lots of unravelings, loosenings, unweavings, untyings.

After swimming through her words, I swam through a few of my own, focused around an exercise I modified from Wendy Bishop's Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem.  I listed five words in each of the following loose categories:  flowers/plants; metals; creatures; landscape/weather; parts of the body; colors; scents; words I like the sound of.  I try to be very broad in the words I choose, and don't let the categories limit too much.  For example, today's "metal" words were:  spoon, knife, blade, spade, rust.

Next I grabbed a line that I jotted down in my Monday group, a line that has been going through my head:  flying things and things that might have flown.  I know it's not a line directly from a poem, but I'm not sure if it was something someone said as we discussed a poem, or if the words just came to me as we discussed.  There they were in my notebook.  I used them.

Minor interruption here as our neighbor's outdoor speakers started blaring music from Seussical: The Musical.  I only wish I were kidding about this.  First of all:  outdoor speakers?  Really?  Secondly, it was loud enough to hear through three back yards and triple-pane windows.  Thankfully, five minutes into it, someone figured out the outdoor speakers were on and turned them off.  Because, Oh, all the things I can't think when I think about Seuss... .  But I digress.

Using the line flying things and things that might have flown, I launched into a draft pulling words from both wordbanks (maybe I should call them word-pools?).  In the early stages, I didn't feel confident that this would go anywhere.  Magically, it did.  Several lines down I was in a dream I had years ago about my mom.  She was in a subway station, waiting for a train, the only person on the platform.  I was watching her, willing her to know I was there, but she seemed not to know.  The train came along.  At the last minute, she turned and waved to me, then boarded the train (all you armchair psychologists, have fun with this dream).  As the draft evolved, I swapped the mother and daughter roles, and ended up with something that conjures the Demeter and Persephone myth in a modern-day setting.

Who knows yet whether it will grow up into a real poem?  It has potential and energy, and that's all I can ask for in a draft.

Right now I am happy, amazed at what can happen, the places I can get to, when I just let myself swim in words.  I love how art can find its way up to the surface from the subconscious.  Yay, poetry.

6 comments:

Sandy Longhorn said...

Lovely report! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to see what becomes of this draft.

drew said...

Molly -
I like the word bank exercise. Can you tell me more? How to start?

And, funny you should mention 'word pool' -- that's what I use with the youth writing groups. As a Pisces, I often think a good writing session feel like a good swim. :)

Gerry said...

I'm always impressed with how intentional your writing process is. Someday I will try that, just as soon as I can sort through the mulch pile and find the bits I squirreled away . . . I swim in memory and paper and distractions. I'm a good swimmer, but I'm not getting anywhere!

Molly said...

Sandy, glad you enjoyed it. Here's hoping the draft becomes something!

Drew, I will write more about word banks..... too long for a comment response... but part of my word bank stuff came from Sandy. Love the word-pool synchronicity.

Gerry, I go back and forth between thinking my writing process is intentional, and thinking I apparently have to "trick" myself into a poem :).

Thanks for reading, all.

Ms. WK said...

Thanks for giving me my first spring board into poetry for next semester's creative writing class :-) I shall be giving you all the props, but may not intentionally disclose the familial ties that bind...
Loved this metacognition.

Molly said...

Ms W-K, thanks for reading & glad to provide the metacognition, whatever that means, some fancy educational term probably :). (OK, I just googled it. Got it).