Lhude sing cuccu!

OK it’s Spring not summer and the birds that were open-throating in the dawn  were not cuckoos – but the general sense of exaltation as a red rim of rising sun rinsed round the field edges and the birds sang out over the frosty lawn was energising in a different kind of way this morning.

We are feeling ready for getting busy.  It means that I make lists, the garden is being done over ready for seeds and planting, the dust accumulated in the corners is visible.  At the same time, of course, the desire to just sit and write is overwhelming.  However I want to try and make sense of it – this cuccu would like to sing loud and clear.

I have a lot of half revised, half articulated in some cases, poems.  Just where I go with them needs to be sorted out.  Shall I go the Redgrove route of having lots of poems, at different revision stages, on the go at the same time?  Like other things in my life I need to be careful of obsessing rather than just doing. 

I am getting better at revising.  I pick up a poem I want to work on and the weaknesses do show up fairly quickly.  The problem is, when to stop.  When is it good enough?  Easy to overkill I think.  Now I have all the poems I want to work on at hand I think I shall continue to look at one a day, with a savage eye, and make marks on the page.  Then put it away again for a bit. 

Now I have decided less competitions and more sending off to a wide selection of magazines I feel there is less pressure.  Also I know that I write poems in the margins.  When I am engaged on other kinds of writing, deep in the flow, the given poem sometimes just appears. 

I have my two current themes – Himalayas and Sri Lanka – both reportage to some extent but also ‘through the eye’ poems – not just describing landscape and happenings but also opening up feelings and putting the words in a lived landscape.  One of the reasons for less competition and restrained revising is that I need to write new and fresh – Spring morning seems like a good time to begin.

The other thing I am doing is to try and educate my writing self.  I never did a ‘course’ in literature that gave me a background of reading and analysis.  I need to be a better reader and to use what I read as a source for my writing. I have devised a workshop for myself that I hope will help me to  be better at catching authentic ‘point of view’ writing and that will help me sort out the problems I have with ‘voice’.  I have a stupid muddle in my head about voice – tense, person, dialogue.  I want to integrate the view from inside the head of my characters, even some sense of the flow of the unconscious, but not to only do it through the first person narrator. 


I am going to include in this blog the cartoon that I still have on my wall and to make confession.  I am about to do another re-write on my novel Abbreviations and to change the narrating voice from the first person.  I also need a new title and a new first chapter.  I am trying out this idea.  The most powerful first chapter I have read recently is Wolf Hall.  I have done an analysis of the shifts of voice in it – they are complicated but very strong, as are the shifts in tense.  Hilary Mantel allows the reader to access a history, intentions and speculations about Tom’s future  in short paragraphs of depth and intensity.  In a timed writing situation I am trying to write the opening of Abbreviations using the structure of Wolf Hall. 

So – ten sentences in as many minutes.  No revision or correction; what is coming to mind now is not based on the actual structure of Wolf Hall but  it has shaken up my  devotion to my opening chapter and I am going to go on with this, as if I am in an actual writing workshop, and see what happens.  I may put a section in this blog of First Paragraphs and hope that some readers might comment on what works, what would make them want to read on the rest of the book.

Watch this space for lhude cuccooing!



Filed under What's happening?

3 responses to “Lhude sing cuccu!

  1. 6vicky7

    Really enjoyed this – yes, tenses are fascinating – almost like theatre lighting, they change all the words around the verb … look forward to seeing the new first paragraph.

  2. I remember that cartoon… Good luck with the rewrites. I’ll look forward to hearing how you get on.

  3. really hope to see the First Paragraphs work – turning yourself into an autonomous-workshop sounds good! That close analysis of Wolf Hall feels right too – turning over and over, the artefact in the hand, relishing its complications and whorls and fine engineering, learning the craft.

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