Another chilly morning, and the furnace is grumbling quietly to itself as I sit in my couch corner tapping out this note to you. According to my dream book, the familiar is peculiar:
Was there special beer? I think so, and I think Tom was worried about it. He was wearing an apron and was taller than usual.
That's this morning's entire entry, and I find it quite snappy. Don't you think it would make a fine opening to the short story I will never write?
I did write a poem yesterday, so no need to regret the aspirational fiction. And I do think that my dream book practice is already starting to show up in how my poem drafts have been switchbacking down the page.
Dawn's Writing Practice: What Is It?
1. First thing, before coffee or letting in the cat, write down last night's dream in my notebook. If I can't remember, make something up. [Private, unrigorous]
2. Drink coffee. Write a blog letter to my friends. [Public, edited]
2. Work on other people's stuff: manuscripts, class plans. [Public, highly edited]
3. Read a crazy mishmash of books. Currently: The Iliad and The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew), both of which I'm reading with friends. Braddon's Aurora Floyd (novel) and Oswald's Falling Awake (poetry), which I'm reading privately.
4. Grab a handful of words from those books and use them to trigger poem drafts. For the past several years this has been my most reliable self-motivating prompt. [Private, rigorous]
5. Do a lot of physical activity between all of these things: housework, exercise class, walking, gardening. [Public or private]
I noted public or private because I realized as I was jotting down the list that a balance of "just for me" and "other people are involved" affects what I'm doing and how I do it. Working for an audience, working for myself: both seem to be important parts of practicing. Likewise, the balance of rigor and lack of rigor; edited and highly edited: there are necessary variations in how word work emerges. Some are linked to audience, but some are linked to control. I try not to control the dream writing, whereas I revise and revise and revise a poem.