Deciding to take on the PAD (Poem-a-Day) challenge was a decision I thought I might come to regret with being so busy, but I have absolutely LOVED it!!
My loose theme for the month is letting go/being loosed.
I'll be posting the poems I've written for the week here on DaybreakInAutumn every Wednesday for the month of April :), but before I get on to posting them, I want to share some thoughts about the challenge (and writing in general):
On writer's block
Even in the short span of a week, there were a couple days when I stared down the prompt and...nothing. So I brainstormed (again). Let go of the notion I had to go with the one idea I had before I started really brainstorming (despite the fact that it was just not working)...and, miraculously, there it was: a poem!
I struggle with slow writing at times (aka blocks; mine tend to be boulders spread out rather than a single looming mountain) because of this tendency to demand near-perfection the first go-round even though I know that's not my process for novels/fiction. My process is more like this: I get an idea, I run with it, delete half of what I have, run again, rearrange the whole thing, and then polish at least once. In other words, it's a MESS.
But when I refuse to let myself run with an idea/several different ideas, I get stuck in a rut. It's as if there's only one solution to the problem I'm faced with, and it halts creativity before it's had a chance to even evaluate!
My advice to writers (whether of poetry or fiction or even nonfiction) in regards to writer's block is this: strive for sincerity, and give your process breathing room. Once you have an idea, ok, run with it, but if it isn't working, go back to the drawing board and ask WHY. Maybe the first idea you had is alright, but the fourth is the gem you're looking for. Or, as it tends to be in my case, the first idea combined with bits of the second and shaped by the fourth...
Sometimes that winning idea is shy (or very stubborn). Sometimes the writing behind that winning idea just isn't coming. In cases like this, I suggest leaving with the promise of persisting.
For example, there was one prompt that I looked at in the morning and jotted down a few thoughts for and tried to write, but it wasn't coming together as I wanted it to. So I took a break. After letting it simmer for the day (subconsciously) and coming back, I didn't have a problem exploring my thoughts and getting them on the page.
Likewise, when I'm stuck in novel-land, I let some things simmer while I focus on another task/portion that can be done.
It's not impossible (though it sometimes feels that way). Don't give up!
On prayer and ability
You probably haven't heard this one much, but when I'm stuck, I pray. My prayers tend to sound something like this: *sigh* I don't know what to do with this. Heeelllp. (!!!)
Seriously, though, sometimes they really do sound like that (with a tad more melodrama). At any rate, I would've never gotten this far with SPHERES if prayer wasn't part of my process.
Growing up, everyone—especially my professors/teachers—praised my creative writing ability, and encouraged me to write. Naturally, I assumed that I was a good writer. But the reality is, I was simply more skilled than my peers...which wasn't saying much, as most of my peers could. not. write.
Upon entering the real world, I realized that I am no genius. Sure, I naturally employ (mostly, ha) proper grammar and have a sense for musicality, but such things do not a novel make. I thought writing a novel would be easy, but it is soooo much more involved than what my English teachers (unintentionally) led me to believe.
Writing—ok, struggling through writing—Whispers and Murmurs has taught me that I know just a tad above n-o-t-h-i-n-g about writing, and a little less than that tad about writing a novel.
Disheartening? Yes. Humbling? Yep. Still possible? YES.
I'm not afraid nor ashamed to admit that, unsatisfied with my level of writing, I pursued the craft as though I knew just that tad above nothing.
I've absorbed a ton in the past couple years, and I've come a long way, but it wouldn't have been possible if I didn't pray. If I didn't ask God to show me what I wasn't seeing and to bless me in brainstorming and outlining and organizing, I would've never made it this far. (Not to mention that I wouldn't be alive. But that's PTSD talk and not the subject for today.)
Well that was a rambleathon, sorry...but hey, I hope some of that was useful for you!!
Now onto the poems...
Prompt: Resistance poem
How Odd It Is
How odd it is to crave things you don't really need--
to resist the notion of losing
something precious while knowing it's (also) treacherous
to allow it to lock you away
from all you can be
and indeed were meant to
How odd it is when accommodation morphs into blatant refusal,
pierces your heart with a gaze so inexplicably intimate,
so fierce, you cannot compel yourself to break away
from its pull
How odd it is that you begin to murmur—to your own surprise and chagrin--
rather than bellowing, “Leave! Don't ever come back!”—
knowing your whispers only grant an illusion
of brushing away the rough fingertips around your neck
How odd it is when you again reach the epiphany
you kept by your side all along:
you are being consumed by fire
and you push away,
breaking the solace and confronting pretension;
when you look over your shoulder with a bittersweet—albeit satisfied—smile
because it isn't there, following
only to turn around and find it right in front of you,
Don't leave me
How odd it is that for a moment, you reconsider.
But then you remember—you are no phoenix.
You cannot rise from ashes even if they appear to be embers instead.
How odd it is that you have always known, always, that it was only a dream
yet strove anyway.
You tilt your hands and let it fall, softly—
a trickle, a stream, a rushing cascade
Prompt: Secret poem
I am not two but one
I found you between the cracks
of my soul
alone, cold, and bitter
I forged you,
summoned you to my side,
stretched out my hand to reach you and
up, out, beyond,
pulled you into a spin.
I became Two.
But when we stop spinning, when we relinquish
eachother's hold, I am both undone and remade—
for I am not two, but one
Prompt: Machine poem
They called it a coping mechanism, how I
drowned out the screams
how I erased them—whether false or true—
and rewrote them to my liking
How I clambered into dreams
to escape the nightmares of reality,
the sound of my blood—
the sound that only I could hear
How I ran from the whisper of thoughts not yet spoken
because thoughts. not. yet. spoken.
singed my hair
split my skin
unthreaded the twice-then-thrice-then-countless-stitched pieces of my heart,
and left me to collapse under the weight and strain of Unbecoming
It was only later that I realized in the brief moments I
I stood between two worlds and lost
the delicate sense of balance,
asking when I became 'Running' instead of 'Me'
Now, after years of monitoring my pulse
and suffering existential hypothermia
I've decided I want to find 'Me',
and breathe on my own again
*the dripping, spilling, pouring part was supposed to be more artistic, but it wouldn't cooperate, so I just let it be
Prompt: Departure poem
At first this seems impossible,
but you'll find it eases into a mere challenging
if you remain focused.
So don't linger, and focus
on the empowering monosyllable
you've every intention of saying.
It's easy, really.
Just say, “No.”
Practice with me: No. No. No.
Now you're getting it.
Don't forget—don't ever forget—
the moment it spilled
out of your lips.
Don't turn back.
Remember, “no” is like a peace treaty
forged in a war zone.
Its compromise cannot be undone
Prompt: Vegetable poem
She holds an onion up to the light and squints,
sizing up its potential
before brushing off flecks of dirt
plastered to a flaking outer shell,
strategizing the best approach
before she begins the real work—her fingers dig deep,
pull and snap at the skin,
and she breaks any semblance of pretension
with a simple twist of her wrist—
She demands honesty.
She beckons vulnerability,
wills the onion's embrace
of a hope within possibility,
notion that it can be not only brilliant and beautiful,
and she coaxes it to lean into the turns,
to slide off its own skin
layer by layer,
patient yet immutable
in her vision of 'what could be'
And she whispers, her voice glowing,
Not in vain.
Never in vain.
Prompt: Things-not-as-they-appear poem
*Definitely feel like I failed on this one LOL. Oh well.
he'd rearranged the letters of reality
so many times he admitted—though only to himself—
he was obsessed
she's only testing my faithfulness
it was the thrill of a game of riddles,
the exhilaration of escaping a maze
only to enter another with a different set of parameters
she's pretending to be a fairytale princess, a damsel in distress
he began each with renewed fervor
abandoning himself to the cause of creativity
she's just overexerted herself again
until there weren't any possibilities left:
there wasn't a palatable version of the current crisis.
she was Gone
Prompt: Love or anti-love (or both) poem
what are we
as we drip the light of stars—
marauders of a false
upon which the moon itself refuses to shine?
you and i, we are steeped in twilight—
with hands clasped together tight
stealing time that doesn't exist
they say nothing lasts forever, yet some things do.
yes, some things last forever...
but not you.
I'm pretty happy with the turnout, especially considering none of these are polished. My favorite is the vegetable poem ^_^.
Do you have a favorite (or...a not favorite)? Let me know in the comments!
Write on :)