Resurrecting Fess Up Friday, and Some Bad Poetry

I wasn’t sure, earlier this month, if I was going to keep blogging about my progress, or lack thereof, about my writing. In looking through my 2009 posts, so many of them were about my novel that I managed to bore myself – I can’t believe so many of you stuck around for that particular journey. Thank you. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could avoid blogging about writing for an entire year, but after spending the month of January considering my writing, and where to go from here, I’ve decided to continue thinking  through the process on this site. It is, after all, one of the huge reasons I started this blog in the first place.

I have to admit I’ve spent the last two months in a rather unattractive writerly angst. I’ve been feeling like a failure because I haven’t been able to manage the writing-from-home thing – instead, I have a rather demanding job that requires more time and attention than the forty hours a week it says on paper. When a week occurs like this last one, I can often be found working from 5:30 or 6 in the morning until well after dinner time – sacrificing the gym, a clean house, my writing. I’ve even considered ceasing writing altogether, except for the blog, for a period of one year, wondering, perhaps, if I didn’t feel like I should be writing then perhaps I’d be a happier person, over all.

I feel like a failure as a writer in various and sundry ways – I don’t write every day, for instance. I haven’t submitted anything in months. It seems other writers I know are able to just totally tackle revising their first drafts immediately whereas mine has caused me to essentially go back to the drawing board and really struggle with the best way to relay the voice, the story. How can I consider myself a writer, when so much of my life is spent not-writing?

Well, enough of that. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few weeks and I’ve come to a few conclusions: first of all, I am not quitting my job to write from home anytime in the near future. I believe I have a commitment to my marriage to continue working until such time as my writing earns an actual living – others can disagree, but I have always been determined to contribute to things like savings and retirement – S. should not carry that burden alone. Furthermore, my job is the one that provides with health insurance. So, secondly, if I am not going to quit my job, I have to accept there will be weeks where my process is derailed. I HAVE to be okay with that – no more guilt. The important thing – the long-term thing – is to return to it after the derailment – much like exercising. Three or four days passing by without writing because of a work crisis is fine – three or four months well after the crisis has passed, is not.  Thirdly, I need to stop feeling sorry for myself, and I need to let go of the envy I feel of my work-from-home-writer friends. I’ve spoken with many of them over the course of the last few weeks and one thing I do know is the grass is definitely not greener on their side of the fence. The economy and the dynamic state of publishing is a challenge to even the most talented freelance writer.

And so. I know I need the creative process in my life – I always have. The form has changed from year to year – but the process of creating – a piece of writing, acting in a play, taking a dance class – it fills the spaces in between. I’ not going to give that up. What I am going to give up is all the attendant guilt, the expectations of myself to write 40 pages a week no matter what – I am going to engage with the process instead of resent it.

Now, if you’ve read this whole piece, have I got a reward for you. Last week I spent a goodly amount of time working my way through both my novel and my manuscript from graduate school, and the other random writing I have completed over the years. During this great mid-winter organization/cleaning binge, I came across several half-completed journals I kept throughout graduate school – it seems I would write in one for a while, only to abandon it when another, prettier, more appealing  journal came along.  I don’t generally write poetry, except for one semester in high school and, of course, rhyming silly things in my head, but apparently I was found myself bored enough during a lecture on Kant to try my hand at it. I have no idea what the initial inspiration for this truly terrible bad poem was, but I do know the process of writing it offered me a chance to escape, to dream – and if that is all writing ever provides me, then I am one lucky woman, indeed.

scribbled at the top: Kant/Victorian novel/blah blah blah who cares. I bet Kant didn’t even care.

“Call me Paul,” he said.

And I did, scared to mangle

the intricate Arabic syllables

that created his name.

Through chrome-colored mornings

we rode the bus together.

He told me about his father’s bank,

swathed in sunlight somewhere east.

“This is Paul,” he said, calling

me on the phone one night.

In the background I heard

beer-soaked laughter and

I thought about the silver rings

he always wore.

“Do you like Julia Roberts?” He asks

one morning.

The rain smeared against the window

and he traced zigzags in the steam.

“You remind me a bit of her,

the way you laugh, it’s nice.”

Just once

I let his cheek brush mine

and for a moment

linger there. I shut my eyes.

I imagined a whole life.

Based on a true story. You’re welcome, people. Happy Friday.

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12 Responses to Resurrecting Fess Up Friday, and Some Bad Poetry

  1. Stefanie says:

    Yay with doing away with guilt! You are such a sensible person. And thanks for sharing that poem. It’s really good!

  2. laura says:

    Oh, I liked that poem too!

    I’m very glad to see you letting go of the guilt. Not many of us have the free time to just write all day without any other obligations. And sometimes those obligations take over completely. We’re just doing the best we can, right? It’s all we can do.

    I’m glad you’ll do the Fess Up Fridays again too! I’ve moved mine to Monday, but I’m still doing them. I don’t know why anybody manages to read my blog at all because all I ever write about is what I’m writing (or not writing), lol! 🙂

  3. Elaine says:

    Yeah! Way to tell that guilt what for!

  4. auntjone says:

    I liked your poem, and if that makes a liker of bad poetry, then so be it.

  5. Emily Barton says:

    Oh my. Were you and I channeling each other this week? My most recent blog post is very similar. Don’t question yourself as a writer, though. You are, no matter how you do it. And we must learn to quit comparing ourselves to others, right?

  6. Loved the poem! I’m with you on the guilt and the anxiety – I think it is part of the package of being a writer. I really admire your resolve to carry on writing and working and blogging. It takes effort and energy, and you’re doing so well.

    I have also imagined recently that my blog has become a “where-my-novel-is-at” bore. I keep thinking I should envigorate it with something else, but, like you, I’m all about writing and creating, so the blog is going to have to be too.

  7. litlove says:

    I can promise you that more time at home just means more creativity in avoiding writing, rather than more writing! Lol! Make a weekend commitment to your work – an hour and a half, regularly, every weekend, where you lie on a sofa and dream about your characters, even if you don’t write anything.You don’t actually have to write anything – the thinking is the most important thing. If you have it all thought through,the writing is so much quicker. And good for you about the guilt – it only holds you back, and things happen in the time they happen. There’s a rising process to creativity, like making bread, that’s about waiting and dreaming and fiddling and wasting time, as much as anything else.

  8. Dorothy W. says:

    I loved the poem too. And yay to no guilt! That’s an excellent goal.

  9. shoreacres says:

    One thing that intrigues me is the implicit tendency of so many to oppose “writing” (or “real writing”) and blogging.

    Because I run my own business, and care for my 91 year old mom, there’s no way I’m going to be sitting around working on the great American novel and blog in my spare time.

    But I had a reader say something very interesting to me a month or so ago. “Don’t go off writing some novel”, he said. “I don’t want to be deprived of your blogs”. Now, that’s good stuff.

    The fact is that I publish every 5-7 days, and I treat each blog entry as “real writing”. The rhythm and intensity – my demand of myself that I meet my “schedule” – is teaching me how to write and giving me a good bit of satisfaction in the process.

    And litlove’s exactly right. The thinking is critical. When I don’t have to focus on something else, I’m pondering, turning things over. It helps.

    Of course, I never “wanted to write”. I only discovered by accident that I could string a few words together and started to write. It’s been pure pleasure for me, and that’s worth everything!

    The poem is wonderful, very tender.

  10. Cam says:

    Poem: Yeah!
    Guilt: No!
    Banishing Guilt: Yeah!

  11. Pete says:

    Also loved the poem. And good advice above there about enjoying the creativity and not getting distracted by the guilt. I tell myself it’s about just putting in the hours.

  12. Courtney says:

    Firstly, you are all too kind about the poem. It is a BAD poem. I know this. I am okay with that. But thank you, anyway. And yes, we all need to do away with the guilt. Of course, I am having equally as hard a week this week as I had last week and am wondering if “doing away with guilt” will end up meaning not writing at all, but I will not let that happen! And I am so, so fortunate for this blogging community of ours because it seems y’all know exactly what to say and when to say it. I love you all.

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