Rebooting myself: N M Browne
As I get older, I realise, as I’m sure we all do, that our biggest battles tend to be with ourselves.
Anyway, the upshot of this character flaw is that I don't keep track of my own writing very efficiently. (Don't worry I am very efficient with other people's)
Last week, I found a whole cache of poems I'd forgotten I’d written and I’ve lost count of novels I have written but done nothing with, or ideas I have come up with but never worked on.
My main problem is that once I have written something, I often go cold on the idea and would almost always prefer to start something new than substantially rework something old.( I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before, but forgotten!)
To say this is a problematic mind set for a novelist would be an understatement, but it is a highway to nowhere for a poet. As I've blogged about in earlier posts, I am trying my hand at being a poet. I am therefore obliged to retrain myself to rewrite, to do it more than once and not to give up when I get bored. All of which, I am embarrassed to say, I find tricky.
I am going to boast now and say I am a very good editor for other people’s work. I spend a sizeable part of my time teaching and helping other people improve their manuscripts. I like doing it, I can usually see problems immediately and can suggest solutions almost as quickly. (There, I’ve done it. As a British woman I have managed to blow my own trumpet! Stops fingers hovering over the backspace.) I have the skill set, I have just not been very good at applying it to my own work. I know that this is a common problem. To write I have to kill my critic, to improve my work I have to resurrect him and as he is a vicious, exacting and unpleasant bastard, generally I'd rather not. Sometimes in life we have to do things we'd rather not.
So, I have a new plan for these Covid times of uncertainty and creative entropy, I have stopped writing my daily poems and am going to focus on editing them, sending them out and perhaps work on a collection. Then, when I have retrained myself to see rewriting as a pleasure not a chore, I am going to do the same with those old novels (which I sincerely hope are saved somewhere on my hard drive.) It’s a plan. Wish me luck.