Monday, 16 September 2013


I foolishly offered to write the blog for this week (Verity here), partly because Life has been in the way of me contributing much to the 7s over the past month or so and I wanted to do my share.

But I face the computer this morning once again resource-less. I’ve been reading a book on structure (of novels, not plays). My advice to myself is – when I can’t write, at least I can work on the craft side of things.

The current tome has prompted me to think of the comfort of structure – how sometimes you can just play with the formal shape of things and use that to make some discoveries. For example, a friend and I set ourselves a competition to write ten villanelles each to see what might happen. They didn’t have to be ‘good’ – they just had to be formally ‘correct'.  Out of the ten  – confession, nine – that I wrote, most were bollocks but one was quite good and another I like for myself, though I’d probably not show it to others.

I also read a lot of villanelles to get in the swim. The killer one remains Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, but another that I found that I didn’t like on first reading was the following one by Theodore Roethke. (I don’t think I’m abusing copyright – it’s widely available on the web). 

Despite my first response, I have kept returning to it,  and so on this grey morning in new-washed Adelaide when I just can’t think of what to do with myself, or my current writing projects or even the punishing idiocy of working in this tough old profession, I thought I’d share it with…well, I think the audience for the 7-ON blog is mostly other writers so…while I’ll nod my head to any friends-of-writing who might come across us this week, other writers –  this one’s for you.

The Waking: Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me so take the lively air
And, lovely, learn by going where I have to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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