Poetics

Agh! what to write, what to write.

So many of the bloggers I’ve started following are writing every day about other authors, books they’ve read, their own books. I’m so very much at the very beginning of the process of thinking professionally, and I’m moving at a snail’s pace. I have little to say to match the more experienced bloggers, but I guess I can write about my own beginnings, why I’m even here.

I suspect there will be several chapters to this story, so I’ll start at what I’ll call “the not-quite beginning.” I may decide to write a prequel about my high school journalism experience, who knows. Oh, wait, that’s pretty much all of it. I wrote for the school newspaper. I was pretty good, but the journalistic form didn’t particularly inspire me. I liked photography better. The end.

So, let’s move on.

POETRY

Somewhere around 1993 or so —I think I can time it fairly well through remembering the apartment I was living in as well as the year that I got a divorce — I started writing poetry. I distinctly remember a time in my teens when I thought poetry was stupid. I didn’t understand it. I tried writing a bit of it in my late teens, but discarded most attempts as silly. But then I got divorced, and I got very angry, and found that the only way to express some of the things I was feeling was through poetry. I wrote an angry piece about a chameleon (my ex-husband); a depressed piece about trying to face the day when you had no reason on earth to get out of bed; and a few other snippets I have lying around in journals somewhere.

And, it turns out, I liked what I wrote. I even liked the things I had written and discarded as a teenager. I felt the “depressed piece” was really really good, and could be lyrics to a song. So, I sealed it up in an envelope and mailed it to myself as a form of copyright. (And then put it away in a “safe place” and promptly lost it for the next eighteen years. I just found it again last month.)

Some time went by, during which I fell deeply into long-distance love (no poetry resulted, I was too busy chatting online or swooning around the house), lost him to the hardships of distance; and then I began another long distance relationship, with the man who would become my husband. We didn’t start off well. He was constantly misunderstanding me, getting angry with [whatever], and somehow poetry became the vehicle I felt I communicated best with him. I wrote some of my favorite work around that time. We talked about creating art together, my poetry and his music, and ended up married. (The collaboration hasn’t materialized, but that’s another matter.)

And then, emotions (mostly) settled down. And the angst-filled poetry went into hibernation. I went back to college and joined a writer’s guild, where I learned about different forms of poetry, and wrote some decent stuff. This time, though, it wasn’t driven by the urgent need to communicate, it was more about playing with words. I had a lot of fun with the poems I was writing. I discovered I was pretty good at coming up with clever little poems rather spontaneously. 9/11 happened, I wrote a schmaltzy “Hallmark-card” poem about it, and I learned something about writing for “others” (commercial) rather than writing what was truly inside of me (art).

And then I moved on to another school, quit writing poetry for the most part, except for a brief and negative experience in a creative writing class — hey, I was buying a house during the poetry unit, I was creatively bone-dry! — and, well, that was pretty much the end of poetry for me, at least through the present time.

Except for the things I learned. I learned how much I love playing with words. I learned that I adore a style of writing that emphasizes description, adjectives, and peace. My poetry doesn’t dive deep into the soul, it paints a rich picture of the surface. It’s often fun; it can bounce and swirl and play and sometimes it doesn’t even make sense, except to me and my deeply abstract sense of metaphor. Sometimes it paints a picture in time, a literary photograph of an emotion such as loneliness, angst, bittersweet endings, or quiet joy. Sometimes it creates a soundscape, other times a visual landscape. Sometimes it follows strict rules. Sometimes it breaks them. Sometimes it’s corny. On rare occasion it’s deep. Sometimes I amaze myself with the words flowing through my fingers from a place that feels outside myself. (I love those times!) Other times I can’t pry anything out, even with a metaphorical crowbar.

And, well, that’s the beginning. The foundation to my personal style of writing, I think.

More tomorrow.

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