Greetings, dear wordsmiths. How are you surviving the pandemic so far? In Australia, many of us are currently in lockdown. In some places, everyone’s losing count by now of how many times. People have been saying it feels like groundhog day – and we don’t even have groundhogs in Australia!
Thus restricted, where does one turn for inspiration? Already there’s plenty of poetry about the whole COVID-19 situation – and room for plenty more – but what if you want to write about something else?
I have been thinking I could start mining my journals for material. I'm not actually keeping a journal at present, but I still have quite a collection from past forays into the practice.
Back yard journalling with my cat Selene, August 2016.
Photo © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2016
Then I remembered that I have done this a few times before, leafing through old journals at random until something appealed to me. It’s a bit like found poetry, except one is finding the unintended poems in one’s own writings rather than some other text.
Or one can turn a chronicled event into a story – either memoir or, with judicious changes, fiction.
The following post comes from my old poetry blog (now an archive) The Passionate Crone.
To Describe This Garden
I've been going through old journals. Among other things I am finding poetry I didn't know I was writing — such as this, which I'd now call a prose poem. I haven't altered a word.
To describe this garden — the constant ruffling of sunny trees, light moving on water in the pool, the gloss of green, wide sky, sometimes birds …. Swallows that skim the pool even when I’m in it, playing in air and water. Big starlings trotting and squabbling under the bushes. Slow grey doves. A quick wattle-bird with trailing tail.
I like the way the sky takes up a lot of room, even in the squared-off picture framed by my doorway. When it’s dark, and the trees are merged black walls and towers, the sky still soars in all directions. The traffic is almost silent, dogs bark now and then several blocks away, the stillness could be far from suburb and city.
When I swim, I look up at clouds and trees, or stars, and it might be Mataranka Springs, it might be Bali …
— Beaumaris, 15 January 1987
© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1987
The 1987 date is from my journal. The blog post was made on November 10, 2014.
It’s good to use really old journals if you have them, so you don’t remember what you wrote (though you may well remember the events you wrote about) and see the words afresh. However, even recent entries can surprise you, because they weren’t written with the intention of becoming poems or stories. When you’re looking for poetic or narrative possibilities, you re-read them in a different way.
Old or new, it’s rare (I think) that an entry can be reproduced verbatim. That’s OK. It’s a source of inspiration. Where you then take the inspiration is up to you.
So – today I invite you to mine a journal entry (or several) for material and give us a poem or a story drawn from that source.
What if you have never kept a journal? (Really – a writer who never has?) In that case, try your old emails. If all else fails, write about keeping or not keeping a journal.
You know the drill: Using Mister Linky below, link to the specific post on your blog; one link per person. You may share poetry or prose, prose pieces to be 369 words max. New writings please – preferably written new for the prompt, but we'll also accept anything written within the last 30 days which happens to fit, or an older piece if extensively (and newly) rewritten. As always, we'd love you to leave a comment below; also to read each other and leave some appreciative words.
The prompt stays open a week. If your inspiration comes a bit late, do feel free to post (or repost) in Sunday's Writers' Pantry.
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. This time the copyright's all mine, for everything.