Wednesday, November 05, 2014

It's taken a while but it's beginning to dawn on me that Ruby starting school wasn't just another milestone in watching my babies grow up in the way it was when Sorley started school but is actually the end / culmination of a period in my life that began when Sorley was born almost eight years ago.

The amount of daily freedom I have now is daunting and surprisingly unconducive  to writing - an overwhelming pressure to be super-productive which freezes me. However thanks to the mentoring with Vicki Feaver, this year overall has been productive for me - I'm about ten poems off another full-length collection, and I'm happy with the poems I've written - they are so much more opened up / expanded than my previous poems. Of course it'll take about another three years odd to place them in mags etc! I'm feeling the need to work on something bigger - something I can come to and plough at daily as opposed to the arbitrariness of poems, I just have no idea what that could be.  

I really enjoyed reading alongside my fellow New Writers from the SBT at the Portobello Book Festival, especially enjoyable to read with excellent prose writers like Catherine Simpson who has just signed a book deal for her latest novel Truestory which you can read an extract from here.

Tree Language was reviewed very favourably in Lunar Poetry -
"McCready’s work is characterised by strikingly original language"
"McCready is ready to take risks with some of her word-coinings, too, with a frequent and creative use of hyphenated compounds, a trick which hasn’t been fashionable in British poetry for quite a while. McCready has the good sense to know that it does not matter whether this is ‘the done thing’ if you can make it work: So here we have ‘sun-carved’, ‘frost-flower’, ‘crackle-comb' and even 'fish-O'clock', to name but a few."
"any poet who describes the Firth as ‘punk-black’ has got to be doing
something right"
I'm starting to get used to being referred to as 'McCready'! And I had no idea hyphenated compounds weren't fashionable :) just a writing tic of mine!

My Dunoon poem was featured on the StAnza Blog as part of the Poetry Map of Scotland project and I got a wee mention in The Scotsman review of Be The First To Like This: Anthology of New Scottish Poetry. 


Jim Murdoch said...

As you know I wrote nothing but poetry for twenty years before I felt the need to do anything else. It wasn’t that I was fed up with poetry—far from it—but I was dry as a bone; hadn’t written a thing for three years. And, as I’ve said before, one day I sat down to write a something, an anything, just to feel words flowing from me again. Next thing I knew I was knee deep (feels like that ought to be hyphenated but I guess I need to be careful these days) in a novel and wondering where the hell all these words were coming from. To this day I still think of myself as primarily a poet and the rest is stuff I do when the poems won’t play nice. I’m not a storyteller though. That’s never interested me. I’m a problem solver. And some problems are too big for a poem or even a bank of poems like my Drowning Man series or the Sweet William poems. But if there’s not the need to write, the compulsion then I simply don’t write. If you’re looking for a big project I suggest you look to the big questions in your life, the things that make you who you are, be it your island roots, your faith, motherhood, the loss of your mother (or both of them at the same time) or the thing you have about blood. When it comes to my own novels here’s the thing though: I’ve usually discovered what I’m writing about in the process of the writing. I start by feeling my way. My last novella In the Beginning was the Word started off simply about a guy writing a story—I was trying to dramatize the writing process—but I found myself digging deeper into nature of the relationship between my subconscious (who gets a voice in much the same way as Truth was given a voice in Living with the Truth although not a body) and my conscious mind and the realisation, the inevitable realisation that he’s the one actually in charge. So it was the exploration of this dichotomy that took over. Maybe you should have a look at what other poets have done. Larkin, of course, wrote a couple of novels but he’s a far better poet than he ever was a novelist. What about blurring the lines? Have you read By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart? I never managed to finish it but I was a lot younger then. A novel takes me a long time to write so it needs to be something I can live with and not get tired of. It’s not like a poem that’s done in a few minutes, hours or days.

Alan Stubbs said...

Hi Marion, it may be that your way of working on poems doesn't work once time constraints are lifted. The way I wrote when I had all day to write was very different to the way I write when I am working. With no real time constraints I found that the poems were not, and could not, be forced. I simply adopted the method of always carrying with me a pad and pen. I became annoying to people for stopping and noting a line, or an incident, or something I saw or thought down in the pad where ever I was. I then had an allotted time (first thing in the morning) when I would examine yesterdays happenings jotted down and see (like a fisherman spilling his catch) if there were any good things that wanted to become poems. Very occasionally there was a whole poem waiting there. Sometimes there was a good line or two, Often there was nothing. But this weay of working would result in at least a working poem a day. As you know, once I have a good number of these I will start to go through them, keeping and discarding, editing and re-editing, etc.. until there are hopefully some that another person might enjoy.

I think it would be a sad loss if you stopped writing your poems.

Very Best,


Marion McCready said...

Hi Jim and Alan! Thanks for that, lots of good ideas there. I have read Elizabeth Smart's book - a few years back, I'll dig it out and have another look. I can't see myself ever attempting a traditional novel - even the idea of it bores me - don't have it in me or the interest to.
I won't ever stop writing my poems!!

I'm thinking maybe it's time to tackle the 'long poem'. I've done a few longish sequence poems and maybe this is something I could develop further.