Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

21 Feb

7:44 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Robbie Williams singing Somethin’ Stupid

Hi, everyone. I’m going to let novelist Henry Miller talk to us today [I make brief comments]. I came across his Eleven Commandments for himself and his writing and thought it interesting, and fun, to read his thoughts. Despite these being written for himself [i.e. a writer of prose] they apply easily to those who write poetry.

writing21. Work on one thing at a time until finished. I’d be out already with the first. I think I am working on about a dozen poems. Although… I have been on them a long time without finishing. Hmmm. I wonder how long that will continue, if I listen to the second stricture.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring. (novel he was working on at the time) No new poems until I finish at least one of the ones I have going. Might work for me. I know that many of you have no problem finishing your poems in a timely manner!
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. I confess that this is where I decided to share these. I love him telling himself not to be nervous, to be calm yet reckless, and above all, joyous.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! Miller followed writing6msthe program of setting a routine for his Program. I would go nuts. To quote Robert Lee Brewer’s recent status on Facebook, “The thing about poets: We can be cleaning the living room, pause suddenly, rush off to find a pen, scribble a bunch of lines on paper, and get back to cleaning without ever telling a soul.”.
5. When you can’t create you can work. Because there is always, always, revision. Or, going back through notebooks and computer files, to rediscover forgotten possibilities.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers. The British school system I grew up in worked along those lines somewhat. Although they introduced new concepts and knowledge every year, they also went back over everything we had done the previous year. I remember a surprising amount because of the cementing. Cementing adds structure and strength.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it. I love that he has to remind himself [says 12588364781478901157kablam_Party_Animal.svg.medshe, who doesn’t leave her cave].
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! [spellcheck offered me ‘fraught-horse’, instead] Work with pleasure only. I like this. The moment writing becomes a chore, the muse is often out the door. [I can’t help it, the comment came out with the rhyme.]
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it — but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude. Although I don’t have a routine, I like the caveat in this, that one may stray, if one comes back, rather like having a banana split every now and then.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. A sure road to blocking output is to think of what is not, not what is.
writing411. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards. This, an apparent caveat to number seven, I assume is a warning to himself.

— Henry Miller, notebook, 1932-1933 (quoted in The Art & Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall)

writing5msI shall see you tomorrow for the roundup; Tuesday for out image prompt; and, next Thursday, for a little of this and a little of that.

Happy writing, everyone.






Posted by on 21/02/2013 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , ,

10 responses to “Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

  1. barbara_

    21/02/2013 at 11:11 am

    Very cool. I may be in danger of losing my joy. Probably time to pack up some dolls and take them to the park for a photo shoot.

    • margo roby

      21/02/2013 at 11:24 am

      Go. Now. I mean it. I’ve just started another blog, never a good sign. So, go.

  2. vivinfrance

    21/02/2013 at 2:03 pm

    The joy is always in the writing, the graft is in the editing.

    • margo roby

      21/02/2013 at 2:07 pm

      A different joy, perhaps. The writing a more exultant type of joy, the rewriting and getting it right, because it is crafting, a satisfied joy. You have me sitting thinking on this. If I were an essayist I would essay a piece on the topic.

  3. Hannah Gosselin

    21/02/2013 at 6:23 pm

    # 3 and 11 make me happy! :)’s to you!

  4. whimsygizmo

    21/02/2013 at 11:37 pm

    Excellent. I, too, am Cave Girl. 😉 Good to be reminded.
    Thanks for sharing these, Margo!

  5. rosross

    22/02/2013 at 3:09 am

    Everyone lives in their own way. Everyone writes in their own way. There is no ‘way’ which works for all and the art to life and writing is to find what is your way and stick with it no matter the doubts or criticisms.
    I only ever write one poem at a time and I rarely edit anything. Perhaps therein lies a problem but it is the way it is and it works for me. Although even as I say that I realise, and perhaps it is because as a journalist one does, that I actually edit as I write. But not much.
    The joy of life and writing is the diversity. Long may it be thus!

  6. The Laughing Housewife

    22/02/2013 at 5:04 am

    On the whole, excellent advice!

  7. Misky

    22/02/2013 at 7:59 am

    I found this not only interesting but very possibly enlightening. There’s good advice here, in my opinion.

    • margo roby

      22/02/2013 at 8:04 am

      I agree, Misk. I have a couple of other authors to share and I like what they have to say, as well.


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