I’m just gonna come out with it.
I struggle, you guys.
I’m not sure how to describe it, really.
It’s this thing where if I write something and it strikes a nerve with a few people, I go all weak in my mental knees.
I paralyze because, well, that one bit of writing that struck a nerve, what if, what if, I can never ever write another piece like it?
And then, what if, after penning endless irrelevancies that are both boring and meaningless, I am discovered to be,
Some sort of human fluke...
This admission of mine? It’s vulnerability’s territory, and I’m really not comfortable there- it’s all so soft and squishy. My brain keeps shrieking, “Run, damn it. You’re gonna get eaten alive!”
In telling the truth, though, I’m showing up to lick the proverbial waters, litmus testing whether or not truth-telling really enlivens old failing flailing limbs.
“It feels so great to finally dive into the water; maybe you splash around and flail for a while, but at least you’re in. Then you start doing whatever stroke you can remember how to do, and you get this scared feeling inside of you - of how hard it is and how far there is to go - but still you’re in and you’re afloat, and you’re moving.”
A few months ago, I committed to writing one poem a day.
I am honestly terrible at keeping commitments, but the older I get, the more I see how a little self-discipline does me good.
Plus, I am pursuing writing as a career, and the only way to be a professional writer is to actually write, write and write some more.
I began sharing my poetry on Instagram daily. I gathered a small following.
And I wrote a poem through the proverbial thick and thin: at times around eleven pm and at other times from my perch in a hard-backed chair in my son's hospital room.
I stuffed an unlined notebook in my purse and pulled it out to scribble on anytime a thought, observation or idea assaulted me.
I was ever so faithful to my resolution.
Then, a few day ago, I was fed up, and it wasn't with my writing.
It was with this ridiculous tic I had developed: tapping the Instagram app on my phone every hour to see how many "likes" I had gotten on my newest poem.
Sometimes, I'd write a poem I loved, and it wouldn't garnish much attention. I'd wonder what was wrong with the poem.
Maybe I wasn't meant to write poetry?
At this juncture, in a move I never predicted, I broke up with my commitment to write one poem every day.
My reservoir, from whence had flown ideas and thoughts, well, it seemed to have dried up.
At around one o'clock a few mornings later, I was tossing and turning, wide awake in bed.
Why wasn't I writing?
Then I remembered something I'd read in Mary Oliver's book, A Poetry Handbook:
Various ambitions--to complete the poem,to see it in print,
to enjoy the gratification of someone's comment about it--
serve in some measure as incentives to the writer's work.
Though each of these is reasonable, each is a threat to that
other ambition of the poet, which is to write as well as Keats,
or Yeats, or Williams---...
I remembered this, and I knew why I couldn't write: I had lost focus.
My one-a-day poetry writing challenge was never about harvesting likes.
No, my foray into social media was about becoming a better writer and stepping "out there", being vulnerable!
I had become distracted by the pull of virtual accolades.
This realization was healing water, and it cleansed my creative spirit.
I woke the next morning refreshed...and promptly penned another poem.
Hey, you. I'm glad you dropped by...
I'm a busy mom of three asking hard questions about my faith.