November No sense Nonsense …

by katiclops

Five days in.

Five days in to the longest month of the year.

I have never done well with Novembers.

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She loved the winter.

She loved the crisp crystal blues. The cloudless skies. The emptiness of cold.

She loved the open space.

Winter air was heat-less, power-less. The sun a large star in the frigid January afternoons, its dim light a feeble apology for offering nothing more to our distant land. It’s dim light a feeble apology for offering nothing more to our distant land. The absence of heat made the air seem bigger. Everything shrunk. Buildings looked like pictures pasted in 3d dioramas.

Everything retreated.

Everyone retreated.

The streets were empty. The rivers were empty. The parks were empty.

You are alone.

Ottawa, 2011

In the cold you finally have space to think.

Everything is white.

                              (tabula rasa)

In the cold everything is clean.

You finally have permission to start over. To believe that tomorrow will be better.

In the cold each day is a miraculous feat of survival. Every day is a new day.

Gasses dissolve more easily in cold than in heat. On days like these the industrial skyline of Hull suddenly seemed futuristic and pure. Chimneys forget their mandate of belching giant slimy soot upwards, and instead rest silently. Letting the off-gassing disappear seamlessly into the ether.

In the winter there is no desperation.

Without heat there are no clouds, only clarity. Every thing is crystalline.

In the cold everything is possible.

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– Day 5 –

Some of you might be wondering why my posts have exponentially increased since last Thursday…well, now that it’s too late to back out…may I introduce…NaPaBloMo! Er, or something like that! I am looking at it as training wheels to National Novel Writing month, and a boot camp to working towards shorter more manageable posts! I am looking to write a blog post (almost) everyday and being supported by the lovely and amazing crew at yeahwrite.me!

That being said, I am struggling…I am used to writing much longer posts less often, so thank you to all for bearing with me as I blog out as much as possible over the coming weeks…my editing regime may suffer as a result! (December may be National Editing month!)

And a big hello to all my fellow Rowmies and thank you to all my commenters 🙂

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In my second last semester of my undergraduate program my housemate convinced me to enroll in a poetry course. It was taught by one of her favourite professors, Dr. Andrew Wainwright, who was retiring at the end of the semester. He was hopelessly cool (I mean, the other class she had taken with him was Bob Dylan and the Literature of the 60s). I culled my journals and cobbled together a small portfolio that was miraculously accepted into the course.

I never for an instant regretted my decision to take the class.

We only had about four assignments.

A haiku, a sonnet (written in teams of two!), a longer poem of our choice, and a short description and presentation about the working method we went through to arrive at our finished project. We also had to provide critiques of each of our colleagues poems, which became part of our final grade. It was great to be able to finally feel justified in spending the same amount of time I would devote to a final essay on distilling the 12 perfect syllables of a haiku, spending literally hours mulling over finding the ultimate word. Gymnastics for the other half of my brain.

The class was incredible.

First off, the people in the group were decidedly not who I was expecting. I imagined us walking in on the first day and being surrounded by members of the creative writing program, who I had never met, but I envisioned as being predominantly women, tall and willowy in sweeping long skirts with forlorn hints of sadness hidden in their distant, contemplative gazes. The few men in the room would obviously be sporting black turtlenecks and goatees. Their work would be good. Really good. Deep. They would laugh at me.

I was intimidated. Really intimidated. And really, really relieved when we walked into class the first day and the room was filled with decidedly normal people. The class was capped at twenty students, 12 men and 8 women. Dr. Wainwright was wearing a baseball cap and a leather jacket. Student representatives included: a rapper from our undergraduate cohort, a law student who was a closet screenplay writer, a few scientists, a business student or two. The only thing we had in common was the terrified, slightly bashful expression on our faces.

Five years later and I still think of the people in that class. One girl wrote this beautiful piece about fall leaves in her bicycle spokes, which I always think of every autumn. Another time, we found out the rapper had a story-board tattoo of T.S. Elliot’s Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock on his chest. All of us became this ephemeral, close-knit unit as we gently, shyly exposed our poetry to one another. A secret sonnet society.

Today’s post made me think of them, because of the clumsy, bashful way I am already floundering material. The complete surprise and humility I am already finding from the work of others. And the constant lesson that not every day will be your best work, not everything you write will be for yourself, but progress comes in spirals, and all it takes is practice.

And so, we write.

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