The Quarantine Diaries #44: Letting Go

Sometimes I have trouble letting go. Whether it’s a fixed idea, an obsession, or my feelings about a particular person or thing. Without the ability to let go, however, there can be little peace of mind or spiritual progress in life. So I’m actively (or should that be ‘passively’?) learning to let go when I need to.

Tired but not uninspired

I am posting this at the time I would normally post my weekly roundup of Twitter poetry, because this is what I have decided to let go of. Apologies to those who have been enjoying this series, and also those who have shared in the journey with me, most notably David Alexander and Tricia Sankey.

I am fairly sure I’m stubborn enough to keep this challenge going all year, as was my original intention. However, I did note at the time that ‘If I don’t manage this, I won’t beat myself up.’ I also said ‘it’s important to let go, go with the flow, and write in the gaps we carve out for ourselves within our busy lives.’ But part of me still wants to hold on, just to prove I can do it. However, I have some pretty good reasons for letting go of this challenge.

The Goose that laid the Golden Egg

For me, the best poems are those which come spontaneously, in a flash of unlooked-for inspiration. Of course, I don’t always write poetry in this way, but sometimes I almost feel as though a poem is ‘gifted’ – it comes to me whole and (almost) perfectly formed. I’ve noticed since I started the Twitter challenge I am ‘getting’ less and less poems in this manner. I’m forcing myself to write at a certain time each day, and it feels as though my muse is rebelling. As in the parable of the Goose that laid the Golden Egg, we learn that we lose gifts freely given when we try to take more than is our due. To lose this natural form of writing is a big concern for me. I would like to receive a few more Golden Eggs, if I’m lucky enough to be granted them.

I’ve noticed lots of poets forcing themselves to write every day for NaPoWriMo. While I think it’s great to use the prompts as inspiration, I don’t think poetry should ever come from a place of force. Inspiration doesn’t work like that, as I have found out over the past 15 weeks.

Other projects

I have other reasons for ‘giving up’ (I do hate that term) the Twitter Challenge as well of course. For one, I am busy compiling The Anthropocene Hymnal at the moment. I am very excited about this project, and have much work to do. Furthermore, after 105 days writing micro-poetry, I can honestly say I do not think this form of writing comes naturally to me. I always want to say more. There is a distinct skill to saying a lot with very few words, and I don’t think I have this to any great degree. So it is with pleasure that I return to writing longer-form poetry.

I had hoped this challenge would boost my Twitter following, but it hasn’t done that either: I’m merely dropping poems and disappearing, which tends to alienate people. I will need to engage with Twitter a lot more effectively in preparation for my book launch, so I’m going to try and do this over the next few months.

One Good Thing

One good thing that has come out of this challenge is that it has inspired others to write some great poetry. Please keep going, if this is what you want, and I will continue to support and retweet you. But if it isn’t what you want, don’t be afraid to let go either!

May the muse be with you,

18 thoughts on “The Quarantine Diaries #44: Letting Go

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  1. I know exactly how you feel. My daily diaries became a chore both times and the writing felt forced. But I was scared to let go because I’d forgotten how to write anything else or I was worried about my stats. But now I’ll have time to write that book about my Carlisle bred grandmother and her extraordinary life. Hopefully!

    1. I really enjoyed your diaries so I’m pleased you kept them going: they gave me a laugh every evening! Funnily enough I want to write a book about my Grandma too, but she was Latvian so I won’t be encroaching on your territory 🤣

  2. I love the conclusions you have come to, Ingrid, and your reasons for letting go! I feel you on the need to say what you need to say in as many words as you need, but also the respect writers give words by letting them glow naturally. <3
    Excited about the anthology!

  3. I agree that forced poetry is often a tough call. It’s good to write regularly but to feel you have to write the same style and every day to publish must be exhausting. I try to publish on my blog every day but I try not to think I have “failed” if I don’t and I am varied in what I publish. Sometimes I dig up old stuff or just publish photos. I think engaging with the community has almost as much merit as writing. It’s inspiring and heartening to see what others are doing and experimenting with.

    1. I enjoy the engagement too! If I don’t force myself I probably write 4-5 poems per week which is enough for me, then I add in some factual stuff to mix it up a bit 😊

  4. Good for you. I performed deadline-driven forced-writing for 25+ years. I found writing in that manner to be soul depleting. I took a few years off to recover from burnout, and now I can say that any writing I do is enjoyable (and I no longer have any deadlines).

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