Monday, July 23, 2018

Colin Mylrea : My Writing Day

Writing days, rather than just writings, are special for me because they are few and far between. As both a university student and someone who works in retail, my schedule is rarely stable enough to allow for a daily routine. In a sense, these days are a vacation away from my usual routine and allow me to take a, in my opinion, well-deserved break.

After breakfast and coffee, I like to meditate for a half hour before looking over notes I have taken in the last few days. Most of my poems start as fragments in my commonplace book so, in a sense, I take this time of day to look for inspiration. Sometimes it's a quote I admire from a novel I'm reading, other times, it's my recording of a newly-recognized detail in a painting at the National Gallery. If I find something I like, I start to play with it, grafting other experiences and images onto it. The purple brocade of a courtesan's dress becomes an amethyst I received as a gift from a friend. The amethyst becomes a summer rainstorm I remember from a visit to Oberammergau as a child. Mornings are for drafting.

To transition to my other work, I like to go for a walk. It's never very far or for very long but it's enough to clear my head. It helps to compartmentalize the poems. While I like to play at a sort of free-association in my work, it's a very rigorously managed free association. Like an overgrown garden surrounded by brick walls. I'll correct spelling, change line endings, and sometimes rewrite entire poems in this time. None of my poems are very long but I like to be as precise and evocative, every word in my poems has to count. If I am a taxidermist in the morning, sewing my chimeras together from disparate bits of memory; I am a lapidary in the afternoon, refining every edge to its sharpest.

I don't write much after having done this work. I'll read a book (at the moment: Sumptuary Laws by Nyla Matuk) and/or visit with my family and friends depending on the day I'm off. After dinner if I still feel a desire to work, I'll keep editing the poems from the afternoon.

In between these days, I keep taking notes.

Colin Mylrea is the author of the chapbook The Rose Bush and the Myrtle (In/Words, 2018). He is also the editor of North, a literary journal published by Carleton University’s College of the Humanities, where he is a student in the Great Books program.

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