Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
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Commentary: The Book of Diseases

In December 2007, I started a "Poem Of The Week" blog on my recreational website, thingwright. In the nearly 4 years since "Tails" had come out in 2004, I'd written almost nothing, and I'd long resigned myself to the fact that I'd never write another book. Committing to that blog turned things around for me, and it came about as a direct result of (inadvertent) domestic chastenment.

In 2006, my husband Patrick started an "Invention Of The Day" blog, and he proceeded to post a new invention every single day for an entire year. Confronted by this relentless creativity and determination, I felt somewhat shamed about my own lack of productivity. "If he can come up with an invention every single day, surely I ought to be able to write one measly poem each week!", I thought to myself. With a certain amount of trepidation, Poem Of The Week was born.

Having always been a self-described "very slow writer", I was quite intimidated about what I was taking on; it felt like signing up to run a marathon despite being barely able to make it around the block. In particular, I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough ideas, enough inspiration. To encourage myself, I thought about Simon Armitage's wonderful poetry collection Cloudcuckooland. This book includes the long poem sequence "The Whole Of The Sky", which was written at a truly awesome rate of one poem per day, and includes a poem for every named constellation in the night sky. I figured that the rich set of constellation names must have been inherently inspiring, and decided that perhaps it would be helpful to have a similar overarching theme to provide a stream of poem starting-points - and that I might need a number of such sequences. For no particularly sensible reason, my own (slightly morbid!) first choice of theme was historical diseases - hence the sequence "The Book Of Diseases".

As it turned out, lack of inspiration hasn't been a problem. Two years on from starting the blog, I've learned that creativity isn't some fragile and etiolated blossom, but rather an abundance that can be relied upon; you simply need to show up, ready for work, on a regular basis. I quickly realised that I didn't need the framework of "The Book of Diseases" to keep me writing, but I very much enjoyed the diverse directions it took me in.

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