It might not look like much at first, but these boxes are the nightjrrs record that was delivered on Monday. On a pallet. A Pallet. That’s right. Something we made was delivered in such numbers as to warrant a pallet. You never quite know what in life will make you satisfied – but this does. And so the slow, methodical process starts of hand stamping all the sides of the records and numbering them. Very pleasing.
The launch gig is planned – just about. More to follow on this. Also, there are more gigs in the pipeline at some interesting venues, which I’m really pleased about. More pleasing still is that we’re still creating new material – some of which delves into old things I have written, creating new purposes for them. Actually, that’s canard: what I should say is that it is giving me the chance to edit some bad things and turn them into better things. It has made me think about editing and how often we do it.
I haven’t quite resolved myself from the excitement of leading three workshops in eight days. It was a blast – and amazing how different people facilitated in the same way will come up with radically different work. A joy. It’s made me want to do more of them. The creation of work is one thing, but the editing of a work is quite another. Many times I have asked to see a copy of a poem done in a workshop at a later date – and when I see it in the cold light of print it seems different. What catches fire in a workshop is a different beast to what catches fire in a final poem. I can’t fully explain why. But it has to do with the page being less forgiving on excess or over-writing. I was turned white-knuckled yesterday by reading a piece attacking a twentieth century poet that I really like, saying that the reason that her reputation had waned is because of her overwriting. There is, in short, editing to do on all poems – it doesn’t matter who you are. A brief (but educative) tour through a few files of poems last night has shown me that there is a lot I need to do if recent work is ever going to be fit for purpose.
But we can often feel that we don’t have the facility to share our editing in the same way that we can communally ‘create’ poems in workshops. I learned a huge amount from Mike Smith’s writing group workshops about the process, and less in other formal regular groups I have been to. Facilitating editing (not the dreaded poem ‘workshopping’ that creates a camel from horse blueprints) is a skill. If I suggested ‘editing workshops’ to the Phil & Lit, in which we could spend a day reading and editing poems, I wonder if people would come. What might happen if you spent a day editing four or five poems, with the same creative intensity as you would if you were bringing them into existence in the first place?
Here’s some nighjrrs to play us out: