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Island Life, Word Birds & Process

In spite of a lush sun trying to burn it off, the mist sticks. The swallows are back, Mistress Crow is in her tree & all’s right with the world. My bit of it at any rate. And for that I’m grateful.

With Book 3 still resting in the Dark Drawer, I’ve been busy Harassing the Hovel & restoring ten months of disorder. Apart from general cleaning, I’ve been decluttering, frightening the filth into submission & chalk-painting furniture. Larks galore! And not much writing done, frankly. I’m between [drafts], so to speak.

I don’t believe writers ever stop writing mind, even when they aren’t physically wielding a pencil, they’re at it in some form or other – ‘not writing’ their little socks off. ‘Not writing’ takes many forms, from actually not doing it to scribbling in your head. This is what I’m currently doing. With a Big Fat Edit looming, I’m already harking back (& forth) to scenes I know I’m going to play with (aka: mutilate.) The word birds are in whisper mode – they know how this works far better than I do. As I paint & clean & tidy, they slip notes into the mental chaos in the margins of my mind.


I slipped in a few of my own too, last Sunday. As part of the Llandeilo Lit Fest I attended a poetry workshop run by the poet Kathy Miles. My admiration for Kathy’s work is huge. And the title of the workshop – The Changeling Poet: Writing Out the Narrative Voice – intrigued me enough to sign up. As did the description: A workshop which explores the persona poem, and how we can write ‘out of ourselves’. We will look at different ways in which the poet can write as animal, object, ghost or mythical figure, some of the techniques used to transform the narrative voice, and use these techniques to produce a piece of writing.

The persona poem form wasn’t unknown to me – it was absolutely not a motif I’d ever explored. (My forays into poetry pursued the patriarchy & shouted, ‘Watch out, the feminist is cross! Again!’) I wasn’t mistaken in my certainty that Kathy’s workshop would be useful. It exceeded my expectations & not only did I leave with ideas galore, I even wrote a poem that wasn’t livid & snarky.

A goodly number of the whispered words in my head involve my ghost. She’s different from Angharad in Snow Sisters & nothing at all like wee Dora in Ghostbird. Her voice has a quirky edge & I like the idea that I can play with it, perhaps create something unusual. The workshop definitely gave me food for thought – mine & my ghost’s.

I’m still working on it – Kathy has kindly offered some tips & I may one day be tempted to share my poem. Then again, I may not… In the meantime, I’ll keep writing in the mind margins, translate the whispers. Once the painting & housework are done, I’ll delve into the Dark Drawer & dig out Book Three.

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