NaPoWriMo: I failed, but it’s a good thing. No, really.

It’s true. For about the first twenty days of this month, despite deteriorating health (don’t worry, I’ll be fine, it’s just making life difficult for a month or two it seems), I managed to hammer out a poem a day. I remember thinking around the 20th of the month that I should post up some more poetry, but found nothing that I liked enough to post. Then, over the last week, my health threw a few more curveballs at me, and it all just fell apart.

I should have seen it coming really. I like to think I’m invincible, that I can take on more and more challenges in my life and that I won’t ever burn out. However at the start of April I burned out with work, and even now I’m in the slow process of easing myself back into my job, so I should have really known my creativity was going to slump as well. I thought at one point that if I have beaten NaNoWriMo three times in a row (last year knocking out 75 000 words in a month), that surely I could handle a poem a day? But it turned out I couldn’t, at least not right now.

And this is why it’s a good thing I failed – I needed to remind myself that I do have my limits, and that sometimes I have to say “no more” and just stop and let myself recover, without beating myself up over my failure. It’s okay to fail once in a while, so long as you stand back up afterwards, dust yourself off, and try again, which is exactly what I’ll do. And all things considered, I gave it my best shot and did pretty well under the circumstances, I think (not to mention that I have never been as comfortable with poetry as I have been with writing stories).

To all of you who attempted and actually managed to knock out thirty poems this month, I salute you! You people are amazing and inspiring, and have the resolve that will get you through so many other challenges in life. And for those of you who, like me, attempted, but didn’t quite get there in the end for whatever reason – I still salute you, because you tried, and because we’re all human and we can never predict where our lives are going to take us, even in the small space of a month.

Next year I’ll beat this challenge. For now, it’s time to get my health back on track, get my 12 novellas back on track (yes, I still plan to finish writing 12 novellas this year, despite how behind I am), and brace myself for my fourth NaNoWriMo coming up in November.

How did you all go with NaPoWriMo? For those who didn’t participate, are there any writing challenges or goals you have missed lately, and have you learned to forgive yourself for it and move on?

NaPoWriMo – 5 Poems From The First Week (And A Bit)

As many of you know, I am writing 30 poems in 30 days this month for NaPoWriMo. I chose not to post every single poem for a number of reasons, one reason in particular being that I usually prefer to handwrite my poetry (at least in its initial stages). I did promise that I would post some poems, roughly once a week, and so here we are with my first batch of dodgy poetry (I never said I was a good poet).

The first poem is without form and rhyme, then I have included some shorter poems I have written – 2 haikus, and a limerick for a bit of fun – before ending with a villanelle. In all cases they are pretty much as they were when I first wrote them, and so they are all in need of some work, but I have decided to leave them for now.


A drop
runs down the outside
of an icy glass bottle,
running down over hands
scorched red, brown and black
from the sun,
where wrinkles blend with

The hand
pulls away to be
examined, fingers outstretched,
lines and scars and
leathery texture
The thumb runs over the
tips of the other fingers
where calluses
once were.

The fingers
twitch upon the imaginary
feel of steel against

The bottle
draws the hand back.
Fingers clench tightly
as another drop
glides along
a weathered, scarred finger.


Wind whistling past
these walls, a prison hiding
this suffocation.


Below the ocean
roars, the swirling void where life
and death will soon meet.

The Quitter

There once was a bit of a quitter,
who quit so much he was bitter.
But then he quit work,
was no more a jerk,
until the twit signed up for Twitter.

Villanelle: A Sound

the small
permeating sound.

It hung around
in the hall,
waiting to be found. 

A small hidden mound
found in the wall
emanated that lingering sound.

Gazing at the bump I frowned.
Uncertainty caused me to stall 
As I wondered what was to be found.

I felt myself tightly wound, 
no longer so mighty and so tall,
but scared stiff from that shrieking sound. 

Suddenly I screamed and fell through the ground,
realising I’d been tricked, I felt defeat’s gall.
Curiosity had cost me but at least I had found
the reason behind that malevolent sound. 

So there we have it. Feel free to provide feedback but keep in mind these poems are very much in their infancy.

How is everybody else going with NaPoWriMo?

Poetry Writing Month – because what I needed was another writing challenge…

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets nominated the month of April every year as National Poetry Month, a month in which poets, booksellers, schools, and various other literary organisations come together to celebrate poetry and its importance to American culture.

Since 2003, in this very same month, a challenge known as National Poetry Writing Month (or NaPoWriMo for short…yes, it’s based roughly on the structure of National Novel Writing Month) has been held, in which participants are to write a poem every day for the full 30 days of the month. You don’t have to put these poems online, by any means, although you most certainly can post them online if you want to, and the whole thing is free and highly flexible. For those looking for more information, the website can be found here:

Like NaNoWriMo, NaPoWriMo of course extends beyond its national borders, as anybody around the world can do it. And so, despite my relative isolation down here on this giant, funny shaped and generally dangerous island called Australia, and also despite the other writing challenges currently eating away my time, such as my 12 Novellas challenge, I will be entering NaPoWriMo next month, and writing a poem a day. Will I be publishing them online? I haven’t decided yet (but with less than 4 days left of March I’d better hurry up). But I will be most certainly posting a few poetry related blogs up, including continuing my On Poetry series of blogs which will now delve into specific poetic forms (if you missed them, Part 1 can be found here, and dealt with a few general thoughts about poetry, and Part 2 can be found here, and looked at some great books of poetry to help inspire you). I will also still be posting my usual book reviews and general bookish ramblings, as well.

It's not that scary once you give it a go, I promise...

Whether you love poetry and read and write it regularly, or you loathe it, or are simply too unsure of how to even approach it, let alone write it, I urge you all to consider giving this a go. It should be quite a lot of fun, and once you’ve written the first few poems you’ll find them coming to you quicker and quicker. Poetry is an often misunderstood form of expression, but like with many things, the best way to learn is to plunge straight into the deep end.

So, will you be joining me in this lunacy? (Please say yes…)