I am reflecting over my current writing projects. One of them is a project that is turning out to be as enjoyable as it is challenging. Initially, the idea was for me to write a small collection of poetry related to my relationship with Parkinson’s Disease. As I have been writing the poetry, what is emerging is an autobiographical work that reveals aspects of my life. Interestingly, it is my story but it is in relation to the interplay between simply being me and living with what I am certain has been a life long relationship with Parkinson’s.
I do not have a specific process. Certainly, it can be just hard enough to find time to indulge in writing; despite the fact that it is now a profession that I have trained for and qualified in. It is because it does seem, I suspect, to be an indulgence that it leaves me feeling somewhat guilty at taking time to sit at my desk and forsake the rest of life while I do so. This is why I most like writing at around 3am. The world around me is asleep and I am free to roam the reaches of my imagination and to be indulgent in ruminating over wording or phraseology.
Some of the poetry has almost just fallen out of me as I have sat at my desk to write. It has just been a very free form of self-expression. On other occasions, I will sit at my desk and spend a long time considering, exploring, forming and crafting a way in which to use words, rhythm and a variety of techniques to deliver something meaningful to any potential reader. I want the reader to have an experience, above all, but it is my hope that they may relate to or empathise with my work in some way personal to them. If they do not relate or empathise, then they may simply consider and learn. The outcome of my work will not be in my hands. That part will be the responsibility of the reader, of course.
In just a couple of months, I have already written around thirty poems that have quite a strong message or image to convey. What I find most extraordinary is how varied the completed pieces are. For this, I must thank my training. The broad range of methods for forming poetry have been incredibly important for me to learn. What I have also learnt, perhaps far more than any course might impart to me, is the nature of the thought processes that are involved in forming poetry. From the use of language and our relationship with our five senses, the spiritual, the ethereal, the experiential, the intellectual aspect and the artistry. Any combination of these elements can work in support of each other or, most interestingly, in conflict with each other.
Without design, a process for my writing of poetry is emerging. It seems to be that the element of self-expression tends to happen first. I put together some form of description of something experiential and then I create stanzas that reveal a story, of sorts; a depiction. This will then be left to rest for hours, days, weeks or even months and I will come back to it to edit it, when the piece seems new to me again. I edit. I re-edit and I may ask for the opinion of someone close to me, before making what is usually a final edit. With each edit, transformation takes place. What is often first expressed in urgency and in the simplest form can then be refined. Not always; for sometimes the unrefined, raw and stripped back form of wording offers an honesty or a visceral energy, for example, that can only come from those moments of newborn self-expression.
Other edits may, however, see me labouring over structure, imagery, symbolism, rhythm and wording to a point at which I know that I am crafting a work of art. Still conveying my message but seeking to do so in a way that may touch other aspects of the reader; provoking thought, feeling, emotion and reaction. This will be an experience that they encounter physiologically as well as psychologically and intellectually, hopefully. That said, any combination of these aspects, as well as none of them or alternatives, will also be my aim for the reader. The most important thing is that the reaction of the reader, to my work, is unique to them and that it is authentically theirs.
As you can see from the last few paragraphs, there are many purposes for writing poetry, many ways to seek to reach a reader or audience and there are many reasons to seek to want to write in the first place. There are many desired outcomes for why we writers want to publish our work. These factors are all important and they all vie for justification. Meanwhile, the writer must not lose what the work was really about to begin with. In this case, I must be mindful that I am writing poetry about my life and Parkinson’s Disease; how the two connect, inter-relate and are experienced.
On that note, I will simply ask you to watch this space. At some point this year, at least I think it will be this year, I will announce the publication of my book of poetry. I hope that you will find it to be of interest. That part, however, is not something I have a say in, for the experience will be yours.
(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.