October 10, 2018
Does writing in your head count? Do poems that, as I lay down to rest, come to me by inspiration from what I might be reading or what sends me to drift off to sleep, qualify? Do times of meditative grace where words and thoughts inspired in a resting state as one looks dreamily out a window or off into space that isn’t space—a staple poet’s image for centuries. I like to believe that these all qualify for a writing day, but I’m inclined to say No. Alas, the writing day involves writing and trying to put together sentences and record some semblance of prose, verse, words. Most importantly, revise and revisit.
My usual writing day, which isn’t every single day, though it happens more than twice a week, whether I’m journaling, writing down an inspiration, revising something or starting a poem off the cuff—the major aspect of my writing day has to do with revising and revisiting my work in a tiresome, never-ending, exasperating way.
My writing days are not exciting. They are my days, where a tiny, intimate and specific peaks of movement in word and thought reverberate with excitement as I touch upon a new phrase or a feeling of unique patterns of words put together by a sub-conscious to conscious self. I often find I obsess over detail. Periods, commas, enjambments. Ultimately revising is the most rewarding and the most difficult as I sift through details; music starts as my words flow out and those moments are exciting. I take at 5-minute breaks every 30 minutes here and after 2 hours a stretch of 15-20 where I grab a snack or need to go outdoors for some air if the weather permits.
Coffee or Tea is always involved, sometimes a glass of wine in the evening and I’m feeling particularly celebratory over my work. Eventually, I start to sift through books if I’ve got long enough to write. A five-hour writing day is the best for me. Though, I rarely have those these days right now with teaching so, I settle for maximum 2 hours on weekend days. I find it’s difficult to go into The Zone as I call it. It’s a space of no-time and being with myself in that requires an effort to move toward and needs it’s pre-writing. If it’s a new poem, I often time myself by 1-2 hour stretches. That time-point for me is a good one. 30 minutes to settle and move into the Zone, which allows me to forget somewhat about time as I delve into it for 1 hour fully in with limits set on interruptions by social media or other daily ‘life’ stuff.
Sometimes I’ll jump into something if the mood is high and I’m feeling particularly free of responsibilities. It’s more rare and often I am in the park or away from home when this happens.
I find writing days in many ways to consist of many things other than just typing or penciling words on paper. It involves reading, thinking, analyzing, making choices, feeling emotional, at times overwhelmed and relieved. Having conversations with the pages that ultimately are conversations with self and/or ‘I’.
Sonia Di Placido is currently completing an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. She is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, The Writer’s Union of Canada, Canadian Women in The Literary Arts and The Association of Italian-Canadian Writers. An Associate Editor of Juniper Poetry Magazine, she has had poems published by Carousel, The Puritan, The White Wall Review, Jacket2, Canthius, The California Journal of Women Writers, and Juniper Poetry Magazine. In September 2016, she was invited to be part of The China Writers' Association International Writer’s Residency for the cities of Tianjin, Binhai and Beijing. Sonia teaches English for Academic Purposes at George Brown College. Her first book Exaltation in Cadmium Red was published with Guernica Editions in 2012. Flesh is her second full-length book of poetry. For more information and works: diplacido.wordpress.com