This week I’ve been in a creative mood. After three years of the characters living in my head, I’ve written down half of a scene-by-scene plan of a novel. I still have limitations on how much I can read, so this may be a foolish project, but I’m enjoying it. Breaking it down into 60 scenes has definitely made each scene seem achievable. I’m practicing an attitude of it being occupational therapy combined with learning, to get away from anxiety about if it is any good or not. The emphasis being on me writing, rather than how you’ll receive it as a reader (although if it turns out OK, I’ll let you read it!).
In a similar frame of mind, I wrote this poem yesterday for National Poetry Day:
Thought Processes Behind The Kitchen Cupboard
I’m experimenting with a Twitter strategy of looking out for trending hashtags and linking with something relevant to ME or Spoonie life. In this case: #NationalPoetryDay, add image with poem in, add one or more of our general hashtags eg #MEcfs, #MyalgicE or #Spoonie, plus a unique but specific one for my benefit to find the tweets (#spooniepoem) and Bobette is your maiden Aunt!
Sharing poems about the realities of living with chronic illness could be an effective way to raise awareness, as well as providing relatable content for spoonies who read my tweets. However, when I searched for poems I couldn’t find many that fitted the criteria I had in mind. I wasn’t looking for sweeping poems that summed up everything awful about ME in two horrifying verses. These are great for ME Awareness Day but didn’t sit quite right for National Poetry Day. I like poems that focus in on a detail, a word version of a Still Life painting. After a few Google attempts I decided it might be quicker to write my own, which is something I haven’t done for 20 years.
To start with I searched for a specific example of something which has changed because of my health problems. I thought of my kitchen cupboard mainly because of the irony that so much health food and health focus clearly indicates it belongs to a sick person! Healthy people seem to be made of unhealthy food. There are also some personal reasons, which wouldn’t be accessible to a reader, such as the old kitchen being ripped out the week of my relapse in 2012. The Photoshopped background is genuinely the cupboard referred to.
I wanted there to be a sense of how illness stuff has pushed out everyday luxuries. I wanted it to sound harsh (cacophony) as the experience of chronic illness is tough. I listed things in my cupboard (and added things with a bit of artistic licence) and divided them into harsh sounds and soft sounds. I then discarded the soft sounding words. I was left with a lot of k, b, t sounds which suited my purpose. Some of these foods are unusual and pronounced different ways, which is a bit of a challenge: I pronounce ‘quinoa’ key-noir and ‘chia’ as key-er for example. The decision whether to rhyme or not was tricky. I definitely didn’t want it to sound sing-songy, which I think you can get with AABB or ABAB rhyming schemes, so I went for the more unusual AXAA version.
Have I achieved what I wanted to? I’m not completely convinced and I keep seeing better word substitutions, but something I’m practicing, as a spoonie discipline, is setting time limits and then accepting things as they are.
Please share your spoonie, health related poems with me below or tweet me a link and I’ll share them (I’m @TweetTipsforME).