Poetry is my go-to. If I’m stuck writing, I read it, from W B Yeats to Murray Lachlan Young, T S Eliot to George the Poet; all hail Stevie Smith and Wendy Cope. If I’m still stuck, I write it (nowhere near as well as they do):
I’ve been writing poems for as long as I’ve been writing novels, although I’ve kept very few of them, and published none. Most are written for friends and family in celebration or consolation, others scribbled late at night because I’m spitting mad about something and fantasise myself Warwickshire’s vengefully witty Dorothy Parker. Almost all are penned on paper scraps in passing. It’s a great way of getting things off your chest (in jest). They’re not high culture, nor remotely likely to win literary praise, but they are the way I tell stories without a map, a cast list and multiple plot lines, and lots are gratifyingly short. Such as last August’s post-dog-walking quickie:
When I revamped this website, I toyed with the idea of a poetry corner as a bit of fun, but my subjects are self-indulgently close to home and I don’t want to irritate lovely book readers with rhyming couplets about Tesco delivery drivers and my eye bags-for-life. Reading a da-dum-di-dum ditty is a big ask unless you’re a devotee. With the digital era of podcasts, memes and vlogs, however, I hit upon an idea that I’d like to share. Here’s an early prototype:
I’m not sure what you’d call it – a poememe? Since then, I’ve twiddled the idea more, and put together the first part of my comic story ballad, A Woman of a Certain Age (above), which introduces Geraldine Friend, a late-to-motherhood neglected wife who’s about to find her second romantic wind. When I first made it, I didn’t think it was polished enough to show anyone beyond immediate family and friends, (I’m still doubtful) but a few of them have been on my case about it ever since. And because it’s Christmas, and because I love them all for their dogged belief – and because I promised I’d do it – I’m gifting it to you all in my final blog of 2018, lovely website visitors, like a hand-knitted reindeer jumper with a too-tight neck and boss eyes at nipple height. It’s already streaming on this website’s Bit on the Sidebar (that’s a little pop-up widget thing I’ve never worked out what to do with) and if it gets a few supporters and shares, I’ll post Part Two. If not, fear not, the sidebar will quietly disappear, and Gerry’s ballad will be archived in this post, along with my narks about ageing:
PS) Rest assured, I haven’t for a moment given up the day-job of novel-writing (and fans of The Country Set series will recognise that the Comptons are in the heart of Gerry’s story too). The Country Lovers comes out next year. Much more on that soon.
Peace be with you this Christmas. Along with mistletoe, baubles, twinkly lights and as much merry-making as you can cram in.