Saturday, May 05, 2007

Is Blogging another form of Blocking?

Poets On Fire is now on MySpace!

Blogging versus Writing Poetry

I seem to spend inordinate amounts of time online these days, mostly blogging - not here on Raw Light, which as you've no doubt noticed rarely gets updated, but generally on Poets On Fire, where I tend to post something up every single day. Sometimes more than one event per day. Sometimes as many as five or six, in fact. Which is a time-consuming business and does effectively mean that I'm not writing as much as I could be if I didn't run Poets On Fire.

But, of course, if I didn't have all these tiring nooks and crannies on the net, and run a resource like Poets On Fire, which is visited by many thousands of poetry-interested people every month, would I have as high a profile in poetry as I do now?

When I was first starting out in poetry, as an ex-snooker player with almost no knowledge of the British poetry scene, or multiple British scenes in fact, the quickest way I could see of getting my name known and actually discovering something about the process of writing and editing poetry was to run a small magazine myself. Which I did, for nearly four years, and its name was Blade.

Now I don't have time to run a magazine, and frankly wouldn't have the patience nor the energy for such a vast undertaking. Complicated and emotionally fraught stuff like dealing with masses of poetry mail every day and putting a 60-odd page magazine to bed every few months seemed easy and fun in my late twenties and early thirties. Hard work, yes. But still fun and not so difficult to do.

In those days I had two daughters around the 10 - 12 years mark. Now I have three young children at home every day, being home schooled, and I just don't have the same levels of energy as I did when I was younger and fitter. So running a magazine is out of the question.

But writing up a few blogs in the wee small hours when all the kids are in bed seems like a fair sacrifice of my time if I get useful publicity in return, and perhaps the odd offer of a reading. After all, there's little point writing poetry all day in your lonesome garret if no one is ever going to hear of your work or offer you a paid spot at their local guest poetry night or literary festival.

Besides, it amuses me to post up all these strange and dynamic live poetry events all over the country, knowing that people actually visit and read the Poets On Fire blog every day, and that most of them will take some sort of useful information away with them. And it pleases me to think I'm providing a free service for other people like myself. Even if I'm sometimes a bit too weary and over-run with kids to provide it until quite late on in the evening.

So blogging probably is another way of blocking the creative outlet. But since buying a laptop recently, I've discovered that I can now write up my hand-scribbled poems on that in another room - even in bed, sometimes! - and not be tempted to go online and start blogging when I should be writing. Then I transfer them back to my Mac via a USB pen at some more convenient time.

Once a Novelist, Always a Novelist ... ?

Poems, blogging, all that is going well at the moment. But when a good friend of mine was recently surprised to hear that I was also a novelist, once published by Sceptre - seven years ago - it struck me that I have done very little by way of pursuing my fiction-writing career lately.

This is not through laziness - I have three full-length manuscripts lurking in dusty computer files, written over the past six or seven years - but simply through feeling very despondent about EVER getting an agent. I send these things off periodically and they come back with a 'No thanks' every time. It's hard not to give up and stick to writing the sort of things I know will get published.

But my friend was right. It's time to push harder at the prose, get back to my roots as a fiction writer.

Onward and upward!

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