know. You're thinking I've got that backwards, and perhaps I do.
That's me in the picture jumping off a cliff in Wales into the
Irish Sea. The locals call this extreme sport
it is both brilliant and terrifying.
There sea was very rough on the last Saturday in August. The
remnants of Hurricane Bill had kept our guide Alex off these
cliffs for several days. "It should be all right," he said, but
later I think he regretted it.
Once in the water we spent more time getting knocked against the
rocks than we did jumping off them. It was impossible to climb
out of the sea. The water was violent and cold. Alex said it was
like a being in a toilet.
Finally he found a spot where he could haul us up using his
safety rope. Then we climbed another 25 feet to jump. We would
only have one chance. I was first.
I stood on the edge and looked down. That was a mistake. The sea
was chaos breaking against the rock face below. I wanted to go
home. I wanted to cry. Instead, I asked Alex to count down, and
as he said, 3...2... I looked straight ahead and jumped out as
far as I could.
That's kind of how I write. I
spend too much time knocking about and getting distracted until
I finally climb up to the keyboard and jump in. I don't care if
my first efforts are any good because I know I am going to
revise them. But if I don't write that lousy first draft, I
won't have anything to work on. I look straight ahead and keep
working and try not to look down.
That's also how I run the
poetry workshops at the Winter Poetry
& Prose Getaway. We gather each morning to discuss a selection
of poems before I send everyone off to write for two hours. In
the afternoon, we workshop the new drafts, pointing out their
virtues and making suggestions to strengthen their weaknesses.
Consider joining us in Cape May this January at the
water is cold and brilliant and terrifying.
Until then, don't look down! Write swiftly. Revise slow!
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© Murphy Writing of Stockton University ●
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