I think I've invented a new kind of writer's block. It's not that I can't write anything, just that I can't write anything good. I feel I've reached a sort of end-of-the-road situation. I got better and better through my teens, and at sixteen I made a great final leap, wrote Novenary, the only half-decent thing I've ever written, and stopped dead. I'm beginning to fear, now, that my writing poetry is going to turn out like my learning Latin: I get to a certain level very quickly, but then I'm stuck there. In which case, a huge chunk of what I'm basing my identity and my future plans on is out the window, and I'm lost. Oh, angst.
I've all but given up on workshopping at PFFA now. It doesn't work for me. I write something, get it the best I can make it, post it and get lots of really sound, useful critique, which I then can't seem to make use of. Partly because people say different things and then I don't know who to go with. Partly because I've "drawn myself out" of the poem somehow. I'm no longer under the spell. Often I've lost interest and want to start something new. And partly because people suggest these big rewrites, which I do, and produce what's almost a new poem, only for it to be as full of flaws as the previous one, in need of another huge rewrite, which is full of flaws, and it goes on forever.
I'm hoping to develop my powers of self-critique at two workshops I'm going to this week, both part of the Runnymede Literary Festival, conveniently held at my university. One's run by Jo Shapcott and the other by Dell Olsen, who teaches various poetry-related things here at Royal Holloway. I had a bright idea this evening, or a cunning plan: go and see Dell Olsen in her office hours and ask her (bowing and scraping, of course) if she'd help me with any of my poems and also with applying for this year's Tower Poetry Summer School. Cheeky, I know, but worth a try.
Could someone clarify something for me - Rob was so kind as to point out that I can't post poems here which I intend to submit places, because apparently it counts as publishing them and no one wants pre-published stuff, obviously. Does this include drafts? How close to the final version can it be? Can you plagiarise yourself? Because I've seen people post poems that are also posted at PFFA and eventually headed for publication.
Also, my poem, Freshers' Week, and short story, The Stone Angel, have both been rejected by Flashquake. Boo. Hiss.