On Writing (September 18-23)

This week I’ve been writing my bulk load about every other day, and then write lighter on the days in between.  On the lighter days (kind of feels like body builders’ workout routines) I wrote poems, equalling about a handful total.  These are poems that I put less focus on rhyme scheme, alliteration, consonance, and wordplay.  I attempted using a more calculated patience in the groupings of lines/meter in my stanzas- which was the majority of the feedback I got in our class the other day.

On a different, more personal note of my writing life… I experienced what felt like  close to rock bottom… I had an acutely insecure episode that consisted of some crying sessions/lack of sleep because I started hating the primary style I’ve been using for the past few years.  I had a reading at an open mic a week and a half ago, a reading at the Student Mixer last Sunday, and another poem displayed in class- all of which I felt were not well-received, and when I heard myself reading them aloud found that I wasn’t really satisfied with what I wrote.  The silver lining is that it helps to go through this harsh phase, because it forces you to look at your work a different way and realize you have to put a lot of work into revision, or even start all over again.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I felt incredibly lousy, embarrassed, and defeated- which I always feel a little bit, but this time around was like an obscene amount.  But I had this miracle of a thought in the middle of my chanting negative self-talk, inside and outside of my head… thinking you suck is ridiculous, conterproductive, and you need to snap out of it when you realize how useful you are to others outside of writing- and within writing if you just keep at it.  It’s so petty, so against a utilitarian principle that I feel so strongly about, to think a few poems I’m dissatisfied with dismisses my potential and worth as a human.  It’s a learning experience when you don’t nail a a poem, essay, nonfiction, or fiction story.  The takeaway shouldn’t be that you’re a failure for the rest of your days.  (Not even kidding, ELO’s “Hold on tight to your dreams” just came on over my headphones.  They know.)

I also know that my anxiety/mental struggles are part of the problem, but not the problem.  I’ve addressed the issue with setting up the appropriate doctor/counselor appointments and have been talking things out with my amazing family and friends who are saints for listening to me.  Every now then you have to swallow your pride before you choke on it.  I, like most others, are terrified to admit we have problems that seem like small potatoes and not real problems.  You convince yourself that to open up is a form of whining and burdening others who have the real problems.  But there’s a breaking point.  Writers and artists are notorious for not seeking the resolution to these problems.  But you don’t have to be emotionally and mentally fucked up to create good work.  I love Sherman Alexie’s testimony to this- he has very candidly evaluated and shared his own battle with bipolar disorder and encourages others to seek psychiatric help and medication.  I also just love Sherman Alexie in general.

I think I’m rambling at this point, so I’ll close on that note.

One thought on “On Writing (September 18-23)

  1. Yes, this is all part of the process: The silver lining is that it helps to go through this harsh phase, because it forces you to look at your work a different way and realize you have to put a lot of work into revision, or even start all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

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