Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where's the Poetry?

This is something I've been wondering to myself for the past month or so: Where is the poetry? Where is any of the writing, for that matter?

Honestly, besides this blog and a few half-hearted essays, I have not written anything since I wrote my poem for Rob. That was finished the week before Mother's Day (I remember because it was Mother's Day when I saw him again and gave him the poem). I had slaved away for weeks pushing that poem to be one of the best poems I've written (and it is right up in the top five), but since then, I've done nothing. I don't believe in writers block, but there are times when I am just so burned out in my daily life that I can't produce anything worth-while in my writing.

Something a lot of people don't understand about writers is that we aren't writing as a hobby. Any person who tells you they write as a hobby is either lying or a bad author. Even when I'm totally destroyed in my mind and body like I was when I was extremely sick a few weeks ago, I still write. However, what I write when I'm stressed or tired or disconnected with reality usually is shit. I think that the only reason my blogs have been as good as they are is because they are all that has been keeping me sane lately. When I don't write, it tends to build up in me, like a clogged drain, and everything else gets backed up too. Emotions, fears, stress, pain; it all gets built up behind my writing. So needless to say, it is better when I'm writing.

But I wasn't. Not until Tuesday night, that is.

Tuesday night I made a choice at 9:20pm to go to the 9:40pm showing of the movie "Bridesmaids." I had been itching to see that movie for a while now, but no one else wanted to see it with me and I never found a night where I had the energy to go. But Tuesday I said, "Fuck it," to everything and decided I was going to see a god damn movie if I wanted to.

I was the only person in the theater. No surprise, Tuesday nights aren't the most popular nights for movies, and this movie has been out for a few weeks. Still, I actually love going to movies by myself, and I have no trouble sitting alone in a theater. In some cases I prefer it. I go to the movies to be alone. I love being alone in a dark theater. I feel free when alone. I have this need in me that sparks up every so often to just go someplace and be away from it all. Movie theaters, zoos, and aquariums are my favorite places to wander alone, and I can stay in them for hours if I need to. As you can imagine, a recent college grad who is going on to grad school less than a month after he finishes his undergrad does not get much time alone. I'm that guy. I have no time to my self. So I really needed this movie.

I don't know if it was the movie (which had a main character played by Kristen Wiig that was a bit too close to my own neurotic self for comfort) or if it was the time to finally be alone and in my own head, but I realized that I needed to write.

I raced home, words forming in my head with me struggling to remember them until I could get my hands on some paper. Once I was in the door with a pen in my hand and a notebook open to clean, white paper, I began to put the words down. In no time I had a poem. It wasn't a great poem by any means, but none ever are right after you write them. Like all art, poetry needs careful craft, regardless of how much Ginsburg proclaimed that poetry needs to be spontaneous (he actually spent a great deal of time writing his most famous poem, Howl, to make it SOUND spontaneous). Still, there was a definite start to what I hope to work and craft into a great poem that I can share with my readers here.

But that wasn't the end. I opened my slow, old-as-hell laptop with the intention of wasting time, but wound up starting a story. Not sure if it is going to be short, or novel length, but the fact that I was producing something made me very happy. And as I was writing, I realized something: I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I've not been sad since I graduated, but I haven't exactly been zesting for life either. I mostly blamed my mood on my illness, but now I wonder how much of my bad mood was really from my not writing.

I had been worried about my inability to write, or even read much, these past few weeks. I was worried I had burned out and that I was going to go to my grad school and be laughed out of the place. But now that I've gotten my poetry groove back, I feel so much better. For the first time in a long time, there's a voice in the back of my head saying, "All will be well. All will be well."


  1. Don't sweat it Ace. Writing (and reading) for that matter are directly impacted by mood and schedule and availability and sometimes those stars don't always come into alignment. And when they do, you can really appreciate the process, the work and the feeling of "you in it."

  2. Loki,

    You are so right, man. I think that's what I love the most about writing: that I can feel the work being done. I don't think I'd ever be able to explain my creative methods, but I can feel them working, when they work. When they don't work I break out the snack foods and feel sorry for myself. I'm only kind of kidding.


  3. Hi Ace,
    I knew you would get back in writing soon. I had faith in you and you know it. You just had to much at the same time, graduation, moving, sickness and so on. You took the time to relax and enjoy life for only one night and see what happens, you have your good mood back and your better skills on the go. 'm so glad that you start writing again and can't wait to read it all my friend.


  4. I used to write a lot more than I do now, when my creative energy (such as it is) tends to get funnelled into work responsibilities more than into more private creative efforts. But the most valuable thing anybody ever told me in terms of helping my creative work - which I'm sure is "old news" to you that you've heard many times already - was an urging to focus on the "jeweled center" of a piece. To start with a particular image - a particular moment - a specific and concrete item - and then to build around it. To never take my (mental) eyes off that image - to look at it from all angles, examine it's details, follow the contours of its surface no matter where they might lead and discover its inner life, its secrets, the shadows it casts, and ultimately its relationship to the larger context it exists within. Now, at times when I want to write but just can't seem to do it, I search my internal world for some specific image - a perfect moment suspended in amber. And once I find it, and start to look at it, well, the rest just all flows so much more easily. All the best as you once more dive into your writer-self!

  5. Yves,

    Yeah, I think sometimes that I just need to have a break and the writing will come. Too much stress makes my writing suffer. I should try to figure out how to handle stress to not be so bad to me.


  6. Jonking,

    I actually think of writing in a very similar way, only I think of that first spark as a seed that needs to be grown into the piece that it will be. Every time I get stuck I return to the seed and try again. I really hope you get more time to write, man. I don't know what I'd do without it.