I completed “The Leaves” a few months ago. Today, I changed a few significant words within the two short verses to make them more consistent with the autumnal scene the poem describes, and whilst doing so was reminded anew of the benefits of distancing oneself from a work (completed or not) for an extended period.
Returning to a work after days, weeks and in this case months (but also years, as I found in another instance1), helps one see it more objectively, unrestricted by the sentimentality that sets in; for in the thick of the writing process, besotted with a line, a word or an idea, it can be difficult to let go and consider possibilities more ideal.
Depending on one’s level of self-awareness, the work will often suffer to some degree as a result, and it takes a tremendous amount of humility (and courage) to admit to oneself that a particular cherished idea is simply not the best. Distance allows one to reflect upon it all, to comprehend and appreciate what one has set out to do2.
From my Twitter account (no longer active): “An idea may come to one in an instant but giving it form takes days, weeks, months, even years. I remember composing ‘Autumn’, one of my earliest poems, in 2012. It was completed in a matter of hours; and whilst the result is adequate, I now consider it nothing more than a draft.” (Tweeted 1 April 2019)
Incidentally, in my ceaseless quest for simplicity, I have also reduced the title to “Leaves”.
I have now extracted from all the various verse variations those options that contain within their lines the most evocative expression of the poetic theme: freedom. The text does not quite resemble in its structure a poem yet—as there are many word and line variations within the verses (which I separate with slashes, for example, “skipping/slipping/sweeping/swooping”), making them appear convoluted—but the familiar traditional stanza shape will slowly emerge from the nebula in the weeks to come.
The posts you see above summarise my experience on Facebook and Twitter, where it seems to me I have failed in my efforts to connect with like-minded individuals. Perhaps it was the reticence of the community in which I found myself, or my own uninterestingness (or even disagreeableness) that thwarted me, but the situation has brought me nolens volens here.
From Resolve to Resignation
A few months ago, I joined SubscribeStar¹, a platform enabling my followers to become, in effect, my benefactors, sponsoring my artistic endeavours through a paid subscription. Although it is primarily a crowdfunding environment, my interest in it was for moral rather than monetary support; a place where I may engage meaningfully with those who value my work.
Now, I have no delusions about my own significance, but I thought I had won at least one person with more than a cursory interest in my pursuits. In this assumption, however, I was proved spectacularly wrong; it soon became clear that the interest of my followers was purely perfunctory; not a rebuke, merely a statement of fact—one I must now wholeheartedly embrace.
A Substitute for the Senseless
Therefore, starting today, I shall invest here what I have hitherto spent on social media, turning my blog and the public timeline of SubscribeStar into social media alternatives. Between the two, the only difference shall be the additional posts for the SubscribeStar paid tiers—fancifully titled “Martins”, “Swifts” and “Swallows”—a feature I hope to bring also to the blog.
If I am to continue posting into the abyss, I may as well do so on a platform as versatile as SubscribeStar (and sans the moral cowardice of its counterparts) in addition to the blog. My first “social” post here then shall be what was the last post on social media², the most fitting timeline inauguration I can conceive, one celebrating the Overberg, the region inspiring my work.