After reading a bunch of these (this is wave 2 of bloggers tackling honesty, fear, and – maybe – sentimentality too), I wanted to participate. Better late than never (right?)
And it’s pretty daunting. Gotta admit, it was easy to read these and I’d imagined it’d be easy to write.
Living on the West Coast and away from family and community, I’m pretty much afraid of everything. But I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m afraid of all of that. Not afraid of those huge fears at all.
What I’m afraid to tell you is why I gave up on writing.
I’m afraid to tell you that, for almost two years, I haven’t written anything. I graduated with an MFA and spent five years teaching writing and poetry. It was perfect. The Essay, a maybe monotonous thing for some people, was something I felt totally refreshed teaching: the lyric essay, the history of the essay, the root of the essay and the meaning “to try,” all of that made me just keep reading and writing and making. Talk about geeking out.
Then I wasn’t a teacher and, subsequently, I wasn’t a writer.
When I looked at my goodreads page, read anything I’d published, I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t write. It felt like a “can’t” situation. I’m still struggling to get to a point where I feel comfortable thinking through a thought on paper.
I’m actually afraid to go further into thinking about why I can’t write anymore. It has to do with things that make me feel ridiculous–money, time, energy, readership. I know I can’t be a “bizpo” (business poet, aka poet who “makes it”) because I lack that marketing and self credit thing.
I think about Creeley and his ideal reader:
The self consciousness of writing and be a writer is pretty ancient and well documented, but nothing would get done if there was just worry. There has to be that opening. For me (and for Creeley) that opening is often language: I hear the phrase “on time” and start to think about its literary strangeness. Literally: standing on time? pressing a thumb down on time? And what would that look like?
But I’ve moved toward fiction, toward essays and articles too. Why? I want to communicate.
And this is really scary…communicating. Really communicating.
I’m afraid to tell you–maybe I’m afraid to tell poetry too–that poems lets me think, but they don’t let me talk. I haven’t, with poetry, been able to communicate and build a community, which is what I need now.
So here goes: Poetry, you’ve done everything for me (even to me) and I think beautifully because of you, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to tell anybody anything–I’m afraid I need to re-learn my playground basics of making friends and talking to people.
I want to write again, but to write something that’s more like a triple chocolate sundae with sprinkles: something that both thinks and speaks. I’m afraid.