Thursday, January 12, 2012

366 Days - Don't Be Tossed Away

So it is very deep to be a writer. It is the deepest thing I know. And I think, if not this, nothing--it will be my way in the world for the rest of my life. I have to remember this again and again.--Natalie Goldberg

I figured I'd better check in. I mean I made this big pronouncement about writing a poem a day for 366 days (I think I said 365 but this is a Leap Year so lucky us, we've got an extra day this year) and then . . . nothing.

But it hasn't been nothing. It's been 12 days and I've written a poem every single day. And it's not easy. In fact some days it's darn near like pulling teeth. I find myself whining to myself, "What was I thinking? I have nothing to say. I can't write for shit. I can't think of a topic. Aaargh." And then, I write.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg tells us, don't be tossed away. Don't let the little voices in your head sway you from your goal. Don't be tossed away. Understand your mind and don't listen when it comes up with a million excuses and insecurities. Don't fear failure or success. Just do it. Don't be tossed away.

I was already in the habit of treating my writing as an exercise. After 3 semesters at The Writer's Studio in New York I have learned that not everything (in fact most of what I write) is not precious. It's just an exercise. It's helping me learn to be a better writer. By studying writing, by reading as a writer and not as a reader, by practicing writing, I am becoming a better writer. Maybe I've used one line that will speak to me again. Maybe I turned a phrase differently and another poem will blossom later. Maybe there is simply one word I can use as a springboard on Day 244. My mantra is always, it's just an exercise. Anything else is a bonus.

Another bonus is that I've already found myself looking at the world differently. I mean, I think I've always been the kind of person who notices and appreciates the little things, but now I do so even more. I stop myself multiple times as I glide through my day and wonder, "That's interesting. How would it feel to write about it? What would my first line be? What would my last line be?" I find myself looking at my world more closely, valuing the smallest moments, welcoming a deeper acknowledgment of life and the way I choose to honor it through my writing.

And so I will keep writing so that I won't be tossed away. Here's one I thought I'd share. . . .

I Am Not This Poem

These words do not define me.

They do not even exist, really,

abandoned quickly on the page.

I you we are merely a moment

in time

in space

Carl's blue dot.

These words are a river

coursing through my universe

in a hurry to meet your horizon.


amy gretchen said...

Writing scares me, but I need to remember what you said, "not everything we write is precious." I need to write more and judge myself less.

Thanks for always inspiring me with your words. You amaze me woman! xoxo

Tracey said...

Sometimes I wonder if we spent more time creating what we love and less time justifying and critiquing it how incredible that would feel and how the pleasant flow of it would sustain us during the lulls. I love you, babe! Can't wait to read more! xo