I know writing poetry isn’t like going down the mines or fighting on the front line in Afghanistan so don’t think I am really complaining about my lot. Sitting here trying to get a poem right is, I know, a luxurious way of spending my life.
It is driving me mad though! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Why did I start re-writing? Isn’t it good enough to throw down your first thoughts and just to leave it at that? If not why not! and DON’T answer that!
I feel better now for that little outburst.
I have been writing poetry for a year now. At first it was an experiment based on a friend’s observation that some of my short fiction was really poetry trying to get out. Well I started to versify and, Heaven’s Declare, I found myself really enjoying myself. I haven’t stopped since..not even when I was in hospital after my brain haemorrhage.
Since then it has grown into, maybe, the style of writing I enjoy most and, unbelievably, I have even got some poetry published too. I was amazed because I was only really testing the water when I sent off 3 poems to an American literary journal in early September. Within three weeks I had a letter saying that they wanted to publish all three. Now I have had another one taken by by another publisher in America. I love Americans. I must try some British publishers too I suppose or, maybe, I should stop now whilst I am ahead.
Well I had my first real taste of poetic pain this week administered by a literary friend and fellow poet. I love calling myself a poet now by the way – do you mind? It feels really nice even if you might think it sounds pretentious. This friend gave me his opinion of a poem that I thought I had finished but which I knew, deep down inside, had some unsuccessful bits where the rhythms came apart and also where my mind had gone into padding mode which led me to rush the ending. He picked it up of course and made some really constructive and helpful suggestions which I felt immediately inspired to put into practice. Quick, the little demon screamed, get it done quickly and move on to something else.
Well, I re-wrote the piece once and it seemed better, then I did it again and it was terrible. I then tried again and it was turning into a different piece altogether. I then crumpled – why did I think I could do poetry? I lost my confidence, tore up a lot of pages and decided to forget about it for a bit.
Yesterday, I went back to my frenzied notes and calmly returned to my original thoughts and a revised poem emerged quite smoothly. Now of course, I have no idea whether it is good or terrible. Time to put it away I think and to start on a new one.
OK, I know, it is not St. Paul on the road to Damascus but it has been a revelation of sorts. I have learnt that not only do I have to defeat that impetuous hurtler in me but I also have to keep hold of those first hurtling thoughts. Not coal mining I know but I did get inky fingers.