Hi all!  This week I have implemented some changes to my writing practice.  I want to share these changes with you today, as well as a little poem about the summer holidays.

Responding to Writing Prompts

So yesterday I felt it was time to start writing some new poems.  I thought, if I want to up my productivity, I should try responding to writing prompts more regularly as this really helped when I was doing my Intro to Poetry course.  So where to get the prompts from? Well there are plenty online but I also own quite a few writing books that include prompts, one of which is A Writer’s book of Days, by Judy Reeves, which gives a prompt for each day of the year. Unlike some other books I have, the prompts seem to lend themselves to poetry as well as prose. Yesterday’s prompt was “The Other Side” and as much as I thought and jotted down ideas I couldn’t quite think of anything directly related to this prompt that I wanted to write.  (If you have a response to this prompt, feel free to post it in the comments.)  What I did was to cheat a little.  I turned to a trusted friend; Google.  The responses you get from the search suggestions that come up could potentially spark off ideas but I was inspired by song lyrics.   When I found the lyrics to Jason Derulio’s “The other side,”  I jotted down the rhyming words and, using these, I made my own poem.  The poem in question wasn’t good enough to publish on here as it kind of lost direction, so I tried again with another song.  I happened to remember that my husband used to listen to David Gray’s “See You on the Other Side” during his long shifts in the Wetherspoons kitchen, back in the day.   When I googled the lyrics to this song, I found the rhyming words more inspiring (don’t ask me why!) so I jotted these down and here is my poem:

Writer’s Block

I am sitting here
Filled with rage
Staring directly at
The haunting blank page

Inspiration they say
Should come from within
Writers should be able to
Slip into any skin

Maybe it would be better
To go out for a run
But my mind won’t rest
Until my writing is done

Besides, the thought of me running
Is simply outrageous
But suddenly I’m feeling
Quite courageous

So I’ll extract my pen
From my hand
And go for a little sprint
Across the sand

A change of scenery
Sometimes is best
To put this writers block
Truly to rest

Jen Elvy

I am pleased with the poem, although maybe it’s not my best work.  It always feels more natural writing about family life as it’s what I know but I like trying other topics and ideas.  I draw partly from personal experience in that I have suffered many times with writers block and it is so frustrating.  Since I’ve been writing poems I have really found that a change of scenery and fresh air helps get the ideas flowing again.    But as far as running goes, the person in the poem isn’t me as I am just as likely to go for a run as to refuse a piece of chocolate cake! The only place I run is on the treadmill at the gym! A walk in the fresh air? Yes why not! But not a run, thank you very much!  The only reason I wrote about a run was that I took the rhyming pair run/done from the song.  Therefore, maybe the narrator of the poem is a slightly fitter person than I am! (and also someone who lives or is staying near a beach). I did find this a fantastic exercise though.

The comeback of the notebook/writing journal

So far, since my poetry took off,  I have made any notes I’ve needed on my Macbook ,or my phone when out and about.  I either type things into the notebook or straight to Pages and it really helps that the “cloud” makes it all central so any notes made on my phone, I can find on my Macbook and, equally, any poems I’ve started on the Macbook I can continue on my phone if out and about.

However, although this is mind blowing technology at it’s finest (Thank you Apple) I have been thinking lately of my collection of notepads I’ve accumalated over the years. I went a bit mad in my 20s, buying loads of them (especially the pretty, pink ones from WHsmiths) and then started using a laptop more and cut down on my writing. As a result, I have a bit of a collection of blank notebooks.  I have always thought I’ll use them at some point, but expecially recently I’ve been thinking perhaps an actual physical notepad and pen could be brought back into my writing.  I do miss actual pen to paper writing, as I don’t do a lot of it these days. After some thought, I decided it would be good to use a notepad to make some notes prior to writing a poem and to collect ideas and key words.  I thought, rather than use up memory on my phone or Mac, why not use up some paper instead? I might not want to take it out and about but, maybe when I’m at home I can make some notes and perhaps write rough drafts of poems in a notebook. So yesterday, this is exactly what I did.  The poem you see above was planned and written in my notebook.

Do you still use pen and paper to make notes or even write poems or prose?  Feel free to share in the comments section.

Summer Holidays

I would like to close by sharing a poem I wrote today about Summer Holiday fun during the childrens’ long break.   For those of you outside the UK, In this country our children are off school for about six weeks, from the end of July to the beginning of September, when they start the new academic year.  As a teacher, I have always had this time off work and since my son has been attending nursery during term time, he has also benefitted from the break.  This year, especially as my eldest son approaches school age, I have felt the effects of the summer break. I think I can speak for many other parents when I say that although we love our children and spending time with them, six weeks seems a long time for them to be off, especially on days where you find yourself sounding like a broken CD player.  It can seem a long time for them to be out of their normal routine.  If you can relate, I’m sure you will enjoy this poem:

Summer Holidays 

Summer holidays in Britain
Can only mean one thing
A lot of noise, some sunshine
And some compulsive snacking

For six whole weeks
The kids are off school
And needless to say
They think it’s really cool

Of course, it’s us parents
Who feel the pain
Especially when the bright sunshine
Turns into pouring rain

The sunny days are fun
Lots of outings and garden play
If only the weather was like this
Every single day

But alas the rainy days
|Unless you bravely venture out
Make the kids so hyper
That all they do is SHOUT

“We want biscuits”
“I want cake”
“Oh for goodness sake,” you say
“Just give me a break!”

But you grit your teeth through it all
You continue to smile
Even though there are enough arguments
To go on Jeremy Kyle

Before too long
The weather will turn cool
And then they’ll have to
Go back to school

And we will take to Facebook
And our statuses will say
“I really miss
My little ones today”

Jen Elvy

For those of you not familiar with Jeremy Kyle it is a talk show where members of the public attempt to solve their conflicts with people around them.  And yes there is often shouting and arguing  and no I don’t watch it!

So that’s about it from me for today.  Thank you for reading and for your continued support.

Jen x


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