The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets—Jeffrey Skinner—2012

It was a really neat book even if I still feel that I have a lot to decode. There is so much information about being a bone fide, living poet. At times, it has a memoir quality to it but those tidbits are juxtaposed with lists of tips and suggestions. I am not saying that all the suggestions are fool-proof or will work for you. I know some of them to be really counterproductive for me as a writer. Like the one where I have to make deadlines, say, to write a page a say at X time. First of all, having a day job makes evenings my time for writing (oh bum—I am better at writing in the mornings, and already wake up at 6 to go to work, and even that is hard) and by that time, as many people are, by 9 pm I am totally bushed. Some days more than others. Some days I manage it. But what happens when I have had three days where I have skipped my after dinner writing session? Depression. That is what happens.

I am much more successful writing anywhere and everywhere during the day, on lunch breaks, on the train. Typed into my phone or written in a notebook or handy slip of paper. An e-mail to self. It all works. It all works and it gets written and makes me happier person. True, I have to sort out these bits out later, but that part is pretty fun imho, and it is better than saying, oh, I’ll write it down tonight, and then so easily forget. If I crunch down at my desk with all my little bits of paper and notebooks and digital notes, I can usually sort them out in a few hours at the weekend, and then I start over.

There are some great quotes in there and also some good exercises and prompts to try. I actually find that this book reminds me of one of my University professors, Steve Luxton. The manner maybe, or perhaps the method of teaching. I get the feeling that I should read this book again after reading some of the writer’s actual writing. There is not much available on the Chapters website, but maybe I can find some elsewhere. This is one of the books that has a permanent spot in my bookcase.