Friday, August 28, 2020

Wild Fridays #34: Moonlight Musings





A Change of Scene

Dear friends, this is my last Friday post; after, amazingly, nearly nine years of them. But don’t worry, I’m not retiring from the team. I’ll be popping up to (hopefully) entertain and inspire you at other times, in other ways, with a bit more – much-needed – space between commitments. [This is not a result of Sanaa leaving us; we worked out the new system before she resigned. I like to think it may have given her the freedom to make that decision, knowing it wouldn’t now create burdens on the rest of us.]





The Value of Community

At this point I find myself reflecting on these years in which I went from a shy, awkward newcomer  – which I hope I managed to conceal fairly well – to a long-term member of this administrative team and this broader community.

I began, like everyone else, as one who enjoyed the prompts. Then the ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ spot became vacant, coinciding with my thought that many fine Aussie poets deserved wider recognition. Robb (our founder) let me give it a go. Gradually I included other poets (even dead ones, as in ‘The Living Dead’) and then other topics. 

Some poems I didn’t exactly wish I’d written, because I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the place they came from, but I was enthusiastic about them anyway and keen to share them, so the ‘Thought Provokers’ segment was born. Recently it occurred to me that things which interest me when I’m ‘Roving the Web’ would interest other writers too. ‘Words from Our Community’ came from a wish to acknowledge what wonderful poetry happens right here amongst ourselves.

Mutual understanding

Fellow team members have always been happy to let me rave on about anything I cared to. When I decided to do just that, airing my thoughts on various matters to do with poetry, or with writing in general, in the form of my so-called ‘Moonlight Musings’ (which tended to happen late at night) I was pleasantly surprised to find that those posts quickly became everyone’s favourites. When I was writing them, I often feared that no-one would find my ramblings the least bit interesting, but after all it became apparent that writers do very much share the same preoccupations. I guess that in itself is one aspect of the value of community, perhaps the greatest value. Who else can we talk to about all that stuff, and receive complete understanding, but others of our kind?

Discussion

I’ve run a number of writing workshops offline over the years, and still preside over a couple – though lately they’ve had to happen by video. I like to keep things fairly relaxed, with lots of laughter. (And sometimes tears, as people find their writing taking them to emotional places.) Writing happens at these events, and in between them. People find ways to improve particular pieces, and their writing in general grows and develops. Many go on to publication. Yet they all say that what they treasure most about our meetings are the conversations, which often range far and wide, and the friendships consequently formed.

It’s similar here, I think, in this loosely-structured yet close-knit online community. Over time we get to know each other – often quite quickly, but certainly over the long haul. Our writing reveals us to each other; it's not a place we can hide.

Revelation

But what is revealed; what is it we can’t hide? I think perhaps the soul. Aspects of our personalities don’t necessarily show. Well, some do – we know who loves their gardens or their God, who is appalled by a certain political figure, who adores cats and who prefers dogs, who’s in love and who is disenchanted … but we only know what details people choose to write. Behind all that, reading someone’s work repeatedly over time, we get a sense of the person beyond those details: the flavour of them, if you like.

Interaction

This sense of the person can happen to some extent with any writing one reads. It happens so much more in a community such as ours, based on interaction with each other: regularly reading and commenting on each other's work. Those who 'link and run' (which I understand happens in some online forums) would miss out on benefits to themselves and their writing – not only because, if they made a habit of it, people would probably stop reading them anyway, but also because there is so much to be gained by exposure to a variety of other writers. It adds to our repertoire and broadens our scope. (Even exposure to bad writing can be incredibly useful, lol. Not that we have any of that here, of course.) When I was running poetry workshops in prison many years ago, I made a point of bringing in a variety of guest poets to work with the participants.  They couldn't get that kind of exposure unless I provided it, and they told me they found it very valuable in expanding their range as poets. They said it opened up vistas. We are fortunate enough to have such vistas readily available. Don't underestimate what you do for others by linking your writing here!

A shared passion

Writing is, as we know, an essentially solitary activity in the actual doing – just oneself, alone with the words. A strange compulsion,  really, to first find the words and then get them as near as we can to perfect. When we’re lucky they come easily, as if given to us, but often we wrestle with them. We have to at least get a first draft down before we can begin to share them with anyone else. And we’re lucky if our nearest and dearest understand either the impulse or the result. Even when they like what we write, can they comprehend the passion for writing itself, why we do it even if it’s unlikely to make us rich or famous – why we not only do it but give it so much of our time and focus? If you’re married to another writer, as I had the good fortune to be – or probably to any kind of artist – that helps. Or if there's someone in your birth family (my Dad scribbled a bit). But otherwise, I don’t like the chances.

A community of writers with whom we interact repeatedly over time not only fills a need but starts to feel like a group of friends, or even a family. I think it’s greatly to be cherished. The fact that we learn from each other – can’t help doing so through our interactions – is a bonus. Then, too, in this international community the wide diversity of backgrounds, interests, lifestyles, and approaches to writing enriches us all.

And the fact that I’ve stayed up much too late – again! – chasing after the Muse? Well I guess that’s a price I’m happy to pay.





 Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors. (Older poems may be out of copyright). For the photo of the map-reader, found on Unsplash, I thank Leio McLaren.

33 comments:

  1. Sad news, Rosemary, I enjoy reading your Friday posts. Nine years is a long time, you’ve been so busy and productive, and I can understand you now needing some space in between. Thank you for sharing your personal poetry history here, and for the poems and poets you've introduced to me.

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    1. Oh, please don't be sad, Kim – though it's very nice of you to say so. I have enjoyed doing the Friday features, and it's good to know people enjoyed reading them. I don't plan to entirely abandon the spirit of them; you'll see.

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  2. I will miss your Friday visit, but after co-administering 3 art blogs for nearly 9 years I can certainly empathize. It seems, though, as if you have an idea in your pocket that we'll see. I look forward to it!!

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    1. I won't be gone, that's for sure. Not meaning to make too much of a mystery about what comes next; Magaly will clarify on Sunday.

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  3. I arrived fairly late to the Poets and Storytellers United Party ~ this line in your post resonates deeply ... 'Our writing reveals us to each other; it's not a place we can hide' ... and for that I am thankful. Looking forward to reading more of you, Ms. Rosemary!

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    1. You must have fit right in, Helen! Seems like you've always been with us – and I'm glad of whatever time it's been, and will be. How wise you are, to be thankful for a place you can't hide – or where none of us can hide from each other, nor even wish to try.

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  4. I completely agree with Helen. I love that writing says so much about who we are and what we love. It's like sharing glimpses of our souls (and our gardens *cough*) in a safe place, in a place many others will be doing the same. More than one friend, who used to blog and no longer does it, has asked me why I keep blogging. It's so antiquated and slow, they tell me. I never know exactly how to answer that, but I think your revelation bit will be part of my answer if they ask me again: through blogging, I get the exchange words and more with others in a way that is not super fast, in a way we can savor for as long as we wish (and we can even come back to it, without fear that some insane algorithm is going to change the order of things while we aren't looking. I like that.

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  5. I enjoyed reading this, Rosemary, and like you have really enjoyed the community of fellow writers here. :)

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  6. I am so sorry you are leaving Rosemary. It wont be the same without you.Thank you for years of a lot of fun.Don't be a stranger !

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    1. Darling rall, thank you for your thanks, glad it's been fun – and I'm glad to say I am NOT leaving! But the Friday posts are ending.

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  7. Well, Rosemary, I too wish you were staying here. Like some others I came rather late AND with an uneasy feeling for my competency to write. You and the others have been encouragement to keep on. That dosen't mean I'm getting good, but that I'll keep on. The other tug is that my inner self loves to write. I had a brief intro to writing in school but forgot it all. A few years back I did self study from a book, "The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets" by Ted Kooser.  One striking technique I picked up was to know your desired and actual audience and to write for them.
    Since this may be my last to write here I will try telling about myself. I love to write in the first tense even though my character is not me. When I think of using it, I have made me a "Fiction" label. Others may be parially true.
    Tonight's for example was all fiction. I did one time drive through Kansas in the early morning but the episode there was way different.
    I was alone and was driving very fast, well over 100 mph in the desolate plain areas, when my car broke. I thought that I had blown my engine, rwo streams of smoke, one from each exhaust, were spewing out smoke visible in my rear view mirror. It turned out minor though, a radiator hose had burst and the engine air intake was getting a lot of the water for the engine to convert to hot steam which went out the rear.
    So Rosemary, I will be reading your writing still, poems and other I hope to see as well.
    One other thing, since last summer I've been writing with one finger on my Galaxy 8 Android smart phone as my computer crashed then and I have not replaced it. I HATE TYPOs dating back from a year of typewriter teaching in the Army. And from personal pride.
    ..

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    1. Dear Jim, we've known each other online so long, at various places before this one, I would miss you too! Luckily I am not leaving (as you will see in Magaly's Writers' Pantry #35, where all will be explained) and I hope this is not your last piece of writing for P&SU but merely (and for obvious reasons) your last Friday comment. I'll try and take careful note when your writings are identified as fictional. What a huge commitment, to keep on writing even if it has to be one-fingered on your phone! Perhaps you might look into getting a tablet if you don't want to replace the computer? Somewhat like a phone but bigger and in some ways easier to use – and usually cheaper than a laptop.

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    2. Jim, like Rosemary has said above, I hope you keep writing and sharing. Words are good for the soul.

      About your phone, it doesn't have spell check? Mine does--and although it drives me crazy at times, other times it's a life saver.

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  8. And we’re lucky if our nearest and dearest understand either the impulse or the result... that struck home... and that is why this community helps so much. Everything you've written is absolutely true! Thanks for all the wonderful Friday features, Rosemary. Will see you on the trail and keep enjoying your beautiful poems.

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    1. I'm glad you've enjoyed the Friday features. And you'll definitely be seeing me!

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    2. So true, Rajani. Sharing with others who understand that writing and reading aren't just hobbies, for some of us, might be what keeps us sane (and happier than we would be otherwise, I think).

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  9. Hi Rosemary,
    Thank you for all these years of excellent work. I have always enjoyed your Friday posts, they provide me with so much information, and food for thought. Thank you for sharing with me the Aussie poets (before that i hardly read much of them), and now i know there is so much talent Down Under. Thanks for Moonlight Musings, perhaps because i used to mostly write at night, and i am curious about a lot of things. Thank you for your beautiful poetry which we enjoyed, and the gentle and compassionate air you bring to this community.

    Change happens, it's inevitable. Enjoy your space, and continue to write poetry. We are looking forward to it. :)

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    1. And thank you, dear Lee San, for this lovely acknowledgment.

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  10. I don't know if I directly stated it, but I am delighted to have you in the prompt rotation. We're really getting the best of both worlds with this arrangement...prompts AND your thoughts on writing and poetry, in one neat package.

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  11. Moonlight Musings is one of the features I've enjoyed most here. But a change of scene is good, too. Thank you so much Rosemary for the time and effort you dedicated in writing and sharing your thought-provoking musings.

    On the value of community, you are so spot on. I'm grateful for this community!

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    1. It's lovely to know my writing has been enjoyed. Thank you, Khaya.

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  12. Thank you for your part in maintaining this forum, keeping it thriving with education and creativity. I am very grateful. After taking a hiatus from writing, I knew I needed discipline and inspiration. My first step was obvious...see what y'all at Poets United were doing. Much appreciation!

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    1. We're so glad you came back to us! I love reading your poetry.

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  13. After the initial panic of reading your first sentence, my selfish mug thought he was going to lose his teacher on Fridays. Your reassurances in your replies brought reality back. I've always enjoyed your introductions to poets unknown to this Yank and would miss them dearly. While sad for some of the changes, I'm glad we are not going to be missing you.

    As a further self-reflection, why am I not a serious student of poetry? My grade school was more of an introduction and not instruction but what's my excuse now?

    Well, time of course. Maybe something will be changing in the near future to help in that area. I write this after working 12-14 hours a day the last two weeks and limited sleep. I've missed adding any work to the community but I hope for some sanity first.

    As always: Cheers!

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    1. We knew you must be very busy after the recent dramas of Nature where you are. Good to hear from you.

      Heavens to Betsy, poetry is to be ENJOYED, I say, whether as reader or writer, and studied only from enthusiastic fascination. The finer points do fascinate me, but at the same time I despise the way it has (mostly) been taught in schools, and I utterly loathe and detest literary criticism. (I‘m glad my articles here have been palatable — lovely to be told by so many today.)

      Anyway, you’re allowed to love farming too! And to look after your wellbeing. Hard to write when exhausted, I think.

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    2. I do enjoy our interactions, Rosemary and your articles are more than palatable, they are a multi-course meal that feed the mind and soul.

      I've learned much from the community with multiple poetry forms beyond the rote pentameters taught by boring grade school teachers from long ago.

      Confession: I believe almost everyone in the community is more widely read than myself but instead of feeling inadequate, I'm inspired to expand my readings as time permits. However, I will always return to Bob Dylan. That will never change ;)

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    3. Ssshh! We've all got Impostor Syndrome.

      But what good taste we turned out to have – Bob got the Nobel, how about that! (As so he should.)

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  14. Love your musings, and learned a great deal about Australian artists and poets. You put your heart into this column, and believe me, it was appreciated. Keep a hand (oratleadt a couple of fingers) in this site, as well as some of the others. Always enjoy your poetry and insight.


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    1. Oh you can't get rid of me that easily! (Grin.)

      And thank you for the kind words. x

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