Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Generating New Work: Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project By Aline Soules (guest blogger)

I'm Aline Soules, writer, singer, and librarian.  As a writer, I choose subjects that move me and I choose my genre according to my subject matter.  My latest chapbook, Evening Sun: A Widow's Journey, emerged from my many years of widowhood and I sought, through poetry, to honor my late husband and speak about the inner journey of widowhood.  After reading numerous books about the practicalities of coping with widowhood, I wanted to explore the emotional journey.  Poetry enabled me to do that.
Generating New Work:  Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project
By Aline Soules (guest blogger)
There's a saying that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.  My experience confirms that because there are times when writers wonder if the revision process will ever end.  There's always something to re-think, tweak, or improve.  Yet, without original material, there's nothing to revise, making the 10% inspiration a very important part of a beginning process.
Which do you prefer:  writing on a blank page or working with material you've already written?  Some writers revel in the generation phase; some dread the blank page and find it easier and preferable to work with existing material.
Are you able to turn off your internal editor and free flow on the page or do you find that you self-edit along the way?  The best generative work comes from free writing and free flow from your brain to the page. 
When I say "best," I don't mean some inspirational moment when something flows effortlessly from your brain to a perfect final draft on the page.  I'm talking about letting go and creating messy material that you can later revise, edit, and polish.
One way to generate new work is to journal every day: write your inner thoughts on a page first thing in the morning or last thing at night or when you have a break from other activity.  I believe in that and I practice that; however, once in a while, it's great to find a new environment and supportive space for that process.
That's where Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project comes to the fore.  The press describes this as both "an extraordinary challenge" and a "fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press." 
Each month, approximately nine poets commit to write 30 poems in 30 days.  In addition, they commit to helping the press seek "sponsors" to encourage them through donations.  What the poets create—rough or ready—is added to the page every day and builds through the month, only disappearing to make room for the next month's poets.
I signed up for August, 2015.  As I write this blog post, I'm on day 12.  I not only have the challenge, I have discovered the community as well.  What Tupelo Press' description doesn't say is that the nine of you begin to bond through special Facebook pages and we celebrate each others' successes as we write.  We also share our publication successes in whatever venue we place our work.  As the project "alumni" grow, so does the community.
I had long wanted to do this, but was too busy with other commitments.  Now that I'm in the process, I realize that I might want to do it again sometime in the future.  When I complete the month, I will have poems to revise, to keep, to toss, to be a foundation for a larger work, who knows? 
As I focus entirely on generation and not on revision or editing, I find my mind expanding, letting go, being less critical.  The joy of that is that I'm finding words I wouldn't have found otherwise, even if, later, I change every one of them. 
Inspiration may be only 10%, but it's the heart of where we begin.  At the end of this month, it will be time for me to hand the baton to the next poet, whoever that may be.  Will it be you?  Maybe.  Think about it.  Explore the web site.  See what you think.  If you're interested, email and let her know you're interested. 
And, by the way, a donation would be lovely!  You can support a particular poet by clicking "donate" on the web site and finding the drop down menu with our names.  Any $ amount is much appreciated.
Thanks, and happy writing.
Aline Soules, Author
Meditation on Woman
Goodreads:  Aline Soules

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