Why I win at NaPoWriMo
It’s quite simple: Today is May 4th and I am on poem 28.
Assuming I write two more poems in the next few days, I will have done NaPoWriMo five times. By “done” I mean I’ll have written 30 poems, in quick succession, with no regard for their quality, around April-kind-of-time in five separate years. A NaPuritan might say this doesn’t count. They might decree I have to write exactly one poem, every day, thirty days running starting April 1st, or it isn’t NaPo. Someone a little less hardcore might say that I should, at least, wind up by April 30th. And if that floats their boat then I wish them a good voyage.
But I don’t think it matters. It would matter if, come May 1st, all the grist dropped out of my mill and I a stopped writing. It would matter if, among the wasted days of poetic incontinence, I failed to indulge in an occasional verse orgy. But I’m easygoing. And poetically libidinous. And I don’t mind dragging the affair out.
Embarrassment is part and parcel of the NaPoWriMo business. This year I indulged in love poetry and angst like I never did this as a teen. Obviously I was making up for lost time. For instance:
I don’t just want you to be here
I want to make you be here, tie you
to a string round my wrist and drag you,
not like a puppy,
but like an angry rabbit.
If you always head east, head west,
just drive. Turn up the hi-fi
and try not to think.
Don’t think, just keep breathing and blinking,
you’re thinking, you’re thinking, don’t think.
No, don’t blush for me, I’ll own my own inadequacies.
But that’s not all! No, this year I wrote about twitter, xkcd, dinosaur comics, Gotye covers and cat videos. I wrote lovingly of the arcane Gloucestershire tradition of cheese rolling, a sport so dangerous it was banned (but has that stopped the free cheese rolling spirits of Gloucester? NEVER).
This year I sat on the carpet with my mother at 1:38am watching a storm and discussing matricide, then wrote a poem about sitting on the carpet with my mother at 1:38am watching a storm and discussing matricide. This is how it starts:
I sat on the bedroom carpet
with my mother
It continues like this -
A mirth of matricides? she said,
a perpetuation of matricides
would that work?
A legacy of matricides, I remarked.
We were waiting for the lightning
to strike the church opposite,
for the cat to squeal and run for the towel basket,
for grandma to pass on.
So now you know.
(Actually I quite like that one. I guess I’m just lucky enough to have a mum who is insane.)
In all honesty I’ve written reams of total gibberish this month. But I’ve never been one to cling desperately to a dead poem in the hope that a wizard will come along with a spell to make it live. I don’t mind writing a bit of dross to get to the good stuff. Actually most of my best poems I’ve typed hurriedly in a moment of procrastination or in a lunch break, thinking they were awful. It’s only later, sometimes months later, I look back and realise they’ve got something worth redeeming. The poems I labour over always come out laboured.
I expect NaPoWriMo isn’t for everyone. I expect I am exactly the sort of person NaPoWriMo is for. The type of person who gets bored easily; who constantly wants to start the next project, and not worry about perfecting the last one; a goal-orientated workaholic; and the type of writer who only has two settings when it comes to editing, tweak and overhaul.
I will leave you with an inspired piece from day 3:
Pirates! Three of them
on the fo’castle
doing a jig:
knees up knees up
clink hi ho!
Not interested in a
whale like me.