A diatribe about supposed writers who complain about the writing process
|Prompt for: Jan 3, 2016 (Fyn)
Subject or Theme: A Diatribe
Word(s) to Include:stifle, breathe, suffocate (or any derivatives of these words)
Forbidden Word(s): : freedom, feel, create (or any derivatives, compound or hyphenations of these words)
Additional Parameters: At least 40 non-rhyming lines. Remember, do not use forbidden words ANYWHERE, including title or the brief description.
Growing Up Into a Writer
I no longer have patience
for misguided muses
who complain constraints
impede authorial growth.
Writing is a process. No
way round it.
Once, long ago, I rebelled
against those wiser than I,
certain, I knew more than they.
Forms stifled me. Being forced to fit
my thoughts to parameters
someone else set
stole the very breath from my lungs,
squeezed the juices out into bloody puddles
to lie rancid on the floor of my psyche.
Pantoums, sestinas, sonnets
sent fear levels into overload:
my mind refused to wrap itself
around required elements
of meter, rhyme and verse.
Yet, I had no choice: the almighty grade
reared its ugly head, teeth gnashing,
to leer and taunt. My teacher suggested,
far more gently than she might have,
that all the potential in the world
becomes, (her word, not mine) stifled
when boundaries aren’t pushed,
when we cease to be open minded,
when we chose to fail
by becoming constrained, trapped
by our own thought processes.
Writers cannot write within a bubble.
To be a writer we must be read
And read by those
who have the depth and knowledge to
feed the beast within rather than pander to it.
Constructive criticism feeds the soul, the heart
regardless if it be a yay or nay.
Not every effort, every exercise
births a stellar result,
yet what is vital,
is that we learn,
we venture into the uncomfortable.
It is not, she said, a matter, purely,
of ‘my way works for me.’
When we refuse to continue to learn
we box ourselves into a coffin;
our writing dies a slow, unread, unheard death.
That day was a wake-up call,
a bugle blasting a reveille
to get out of my rutted bed
and fear not to embrace
that odd sestina.
Now, it is my favored form.
I tear my hair out every time.
I fight the words, the phrasings,
I find the metaphors,
and then I defeat the form.
True poetry is rooted in them.
Regardless if we write about a landscape,
a paper bag, a failed pot roast
or deceit or whirling dervishes,
framing a poem within one scenario does not negate
writing (on a deeper level)
about something else entirely.
That was a lesson I needed to learn.
All the potential in the world is worthless
if we don’t avail ourselves of possibilities.
The woodcarver envisioning a box
in a split black-walnut log
still is constrained by skill and grain,
by tools and imagination, by time and energy.
Suffocation is not an option.
It is a choice, whether through a fear of not succeeding
or not wanting badly enough
or a refusal to grow. It is a giving up,
a giving in
to an insecurity.
Not the opposite.
Much of this I’ve learned
the old fashioned way: by trying and doing.
By being determined not to fail.
By getting my butt kicked
by many a teacher and
by being a teacher myself.
I once likened poetry to being trapped
in a narrow cavern, when the walls closed in
and I could go neither forward nor back.
I was utterly helpless, my flashlight died.
Locked in darkness so black that the lights I saw
when I squeezed my eyes shut seemed blinding.
Panic overwhelmed shutting down cohesive thought.
I was forced to calm myself and breathe,
To figure out
a way out of an untenable situation.
The alternative was unacceptable.
Writing is a bit like that, for to me,
writing is the very air I inhale. Cut me; I bleed ink.
I can’t not write.
So I do what I need to do
to the required or the necessary.
Society restrains us all – retrains-
for it places demands, constraints.
Rules exist for reasons…
Actions, consequences in writing, in life.
In one form or another:
hiding around corners
to pounce and maul,
lingering in darkened shadows
to chew and feed,
vulturing above me,
ready to descend and devour.
Writers must be visionary. Revisionists
beyond the pale. Always in search,
always a seeking for the perfect word
or phase. Eager to amend. Willing to follow
when the poem takes the lead and the writer
can merely transcribe words to paper. There is no
keeping track or count of changes made: it doesn’t matter.
The true writer, while keeping prior versions,
knows that revision only brings the vision into focus.
Writing is a craft, an adventure.
No wordsmith worth his salt
ever skipped the apprentice phase.
We all write to an audience. Not to ourselves.
Whether it be judge or teacher,
a favored reader or faceless entity
it is to them we aim
Rules, mores, judgements. They simply are.
No getting around it. The wise one learns
to make them work. The wise one never fails
to continue to learn. In that, there is no place to whine.
Or cry foul. In that, there is success. In that, there is triumph.
a true writer,
finally, is born.