Monday, January 2, 2017

Lizz Murphy: In for the long haul

I know it’s been decided that we can keep going if we want to but some need to move on and so do I. I don’t have to be anywhere but it has been a struggle at times. (This was not a surprise.) I considered dropping out more than once in the second half, but somehow stayed on for the long haul. I’m amazed.

At the same time I feel quite emotional about the project ending and saying farewell – even to those I know personally (huh?). Not helped by some very moving parting poems by other contributors. It’s been a very special experience. I have loved being connected to this group of poets and artists and seeing so many new works in the fresh. It’s at times electric.

each adieu a ship’s siren
a slap of salt against the quay
the poets are departing

It’s also shown me that no matter how tough things get I can still be creating, that the pieces I feel are such a compromise are … authentic? ... and that it’s not that big a loss if I don’t get into the deeper research I’ve been interested in. I need to think less about what I’m hankering after and think more about what I’m actually achieving and to see that resulting work as still credible.

It has been an exhausting year (I have a carer’s role) and this took its toll. I wrote on my own blog in October: I have reached a stage where I don’t think I can haul another word out of me. But then I began drawing. Quite soon I introduced found text and began to feel very satisfied, because after all art & text is something else I’d been wanting to do more of. The pressure of the daily commitment made me get on with that welcome alternative. I enjoyed being in that zone – scribbling, smearing, molding, layering, shading.

Around the same time a mild sense of panic also set in. It’s as if everything now hinges on this project – all the writing I may ever do has to happen in the two months before it finishes. Not rational I know. I think those feelings were really in anticipation of continuing the writer’s daily life in this new year, without the daily deadline and the generous support of the group. So often a comment would warm the cockles of my heart and set me in a ‘yes I can (again)’ mood. I can’t thank you all enough.

Today's revelation is that the project has given me the will to keep writing - maybe without knowing it I had lost some of that.


  1. Dear Lizz,

    What a moving statement you have made. You did better than me because I almost gave up in the first or second week. And then I thought what a cop out, keep going. I almost stopped again in February after my beautiful dog, Freya died suddenly. But she insisted I write about her, so I did. And so it goes on. Quite a few duds among what I wrote, but there are also poems I'd never have written if I hadn't hung in. I remember June as an especially talkative month between poets responding to one another - but by no means the only month.

    I'm also quite amazed at what seems to work when you think, oh that's definitely a dud - and then someone responds saying love it, wow or something similar and as you say, it keeps you going. I've also been thrilled by the many different ways poets approach poetry, the range, the subject matters and styles - while I know this, to see it is another matter. Thank you for broadening my poetry education which is a never-ending task and one to take right to the death bed I reckon.

    I loved seeing all your visual art, especially the head series. It was such a very different way of seeing.

    No doubt we will bounce off one another again - individually and collectively. We should put ourselves forward as a group to one of the writers or poetry festivals.

    The other big plus for me is that I was meant to be working on my novel this year and I was so lost that I just couldn't do it. But the daily poem writing has given me material to turn into prose (mostly) and in fact it's really helped me find certain elements of my novel that also wouldn't have happened. So thanks to everyone for your part in that. For that reason I have to pike out now and focus on getting it completely finished among a range of other things on my plate. Maybe I can participate in the 52 project. We'll see.

  2. Thank you for such a beautiful response Susan. I know what you mean - there are the things we know and have seen before but the unfolding of them day by day makes them new and often more meaningful somehow. Especially enjoyed your cow and muse poems (I think I'm yet to meet the muse challenge myself) and the recent poems from your travels. Best wishes for your novel - it's interesting to hear how 365 + 1 has effected that work.