Be It Resolved.
Last year at this time, I made it my goal to produce four poems each month. They didn’t have to be good, but they did have to be complete–I had to see them through from start to some kind of finish. I made a folder on my computer for each month of the year, and in each I resolved to transcribe and revise four things out of my notebook. In the early going, the system worked well: the emphasis on production kept me writing, and kept me from worrying about whether or not what I was writing was “brilliant” or “significant.” Because I needed four notebook entries each month that were worthy of transcription, I needed to fill my notebook. And I did. Eventually, of course, other exigencies crept in, and some monthly folders contain two poems, some one (usually written around the 29th of the month). Still, at year’s end, I have a good stack of poems, enough that I’m able to let go of the ones that deserve to be let go of and get excited about the ones in which something is really happening.
The painfully simple lesson here is one that we learn over and over again: writers write. Not “writers write brilliantly,” or “writers write things that change the world,” though both of these things happen. But the only part that any writer can control is the writing–whether or not it gets done, and how carefully it gets done. If I sit down to write brilliantly, I won’t write at all. If I sit down simply to write, I give myself the opportunity to be brilliant. Or at least–and really, this is my goal–to be not terrible.