Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ronna Bloom : Writing Day

Because rob mclennan asked about my writing day I need a writing day. Today. Books on my bed. Piles of books and my upside-down pen, this one in my hand that I've had for 15 years. Otherwise, it's pencils–– lying on my back, book in air.

I've not written in months because of a recent wave of extroverted energy –– readings, workshops, a new book out, and people –– so the thought of dropping down writing is scary. But this new thing has been bubbling up for a while. Venice I'm talking about you.

My default for a writing day is to take my favourite poetry books and put them beside me on the bed. I lie on top of the covers in sweatpants and read and read and read until I start to write. Even a few lines are fine. There's no pressure –– though I call it a writing day –– to actually write. The intention is to make the space, the bed, the books, this raft for writing. Sometimes I just lie there for a while and cry.

More than "a writing day" what I crave every few months is a retreat in my house, where I put autoreply on everything, and tell my close people I'm not available. I get food, and go to Book City in anticipation and buy one new poetry book for special. A retreat means at least 3 days together. Three nights and three days. It really shouldn't be less, but more is good. I'm greedy and selfish. I mean I already live alone so what's the deal? But it's something psychological as well as physical to retreat even in one's own space consciously. To say no to certain things means I am saying yes to something else.

Three days with three nights is important for two reasons: one is that I don't want to be able to see the end of the retreat from the start. If it ends 'the day after tomorrow' that is too close. I can see it. But three days from now is a different language away. The second reason is that when Virginia Woolf had three days to herself she wrote in her diary, "I have three days, three round and perfect pearls."

I take my favourite poetry books onto the bed with me. Or I get a new one to add to the pile. But it's not just my favourite poetry books I want this time. In truth, (why say, 'in truth' it's all truth. This is just hedging now,) I want to bring the Venice notes and books and flyers, and put them here beside me. They've been sitting on a chair in a corner of the kitchen as though I'm scared of them.

This writing project is different from the way I've written before. It is floating up out of a place and a swirling formless want. It feels like love before I have any right to call it love because I barely know the beloved. Like I'm stepping one delicate toe on a boat on water and I don't know how to swim. Oh, bed, raft, poetry books, home base for writing: be refuge and catapult.

Ronna Bloom, 2017 (the last 4 words here come from my poem, "What I Want from Art" in The More.)

Ronna Bloom has published six books of poetry, most recently The More (Pedlar Press, 2017). Her poems have been translated into Spanish and Bengali, recorded by the CNIB, and used in films, by architects, in education and health care. She is currently Poet in Community at the University of Toronto and Poet in Residence in the Sinai Health System in Toronto.

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