Photograph by Robbie Shone, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
Good-bye to NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo 2017!
Hello to Jus-Kee-Wri-Poe, or JUST KEEP WRITING POETRY! Every day. For a year. Or more. Hopefully many more.
Many thanks to Maureen Thorson of NaPoWriMo for launching this project back in 2003. What a journey this must have been! I’ve only joined the cohort of participants this year and have been amazed at the overwhelming response. So much good poetry out there! So many creative people! It’s wonderfully encouraging to find a community of writers, to write together for a common cause, to share and support one another’s efforts.
This has been a strange, beautiful, maddening, touching, frustrating, surprisingly productive month, one filled with self-doubt (pretty much every time I set out to write to a prompt) and wonder (pretty much every time I ended up drafting a poem). I’m not—I should say, I wasn’t—used to writing every day or sharing unfinished work. Writing happened in my ‘free’ time, a mythical, unattainable notion, in the spaces between other activities. Writing happened if the house was clean, the family was fed, the kids had finished their homework. I didn’t know how to write and function in the real world at the same time. Still don’t. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’m not entirely in the world when I write. I have to be in the world for my family’s sake and safety. But I digress.
They say it takes three weeks to develop a habit. Studies show that it takes about nine weeks for the habit to begin showing results. What that means is that I cannot stop now. I’m not ready to go back to the times of yore, when I was only writing during the weekends, if at all. Because you see, a wonderful thing has happened while I doggedly scribbled away every day, hoping that random words would congeal into something recognizable as a poem. I began to crave the next wrestling match with language.
It’s addictive, this immersion into language to the point where it becomes a place, a territory you thought you knew, until you stumble over a secret/sacred threshold. Imagine discovering mysterious rock formations in your own backyard, a portal to another universe, the entrance to a cave of wonders. Would you stop to look at your watch, conclude that you don’t have that much time before you’ve got to cook dinner, that there’s that full laundry basket calling your name… or would you advance beyond the threshold?
What? I didn’t quite get that? Riiiight.
I thought so.
My writing process has always been an inward journey. I’ve rarely responded to something ‘in the moment.’ I’ve needed time to digest an experience and approach it from the distance of days, weeks, months, even years. I’ve applied the same test of time to my drafts. I don’t really know if a poem is any good until I realize I can still stand it after the initial excitement has petered away. What that means is that some of the 30 poems I’ve shared might make me shudder and cringe in the weeks to come. So be it. If I’ve got one or two I’ll reread a year from now and feel grateful, I’m happy.
This being said, I shall remove these poems from the website (for now). They may return if (ever) published. But for that to happen, I need to slap their cheeks, breathe some air into their lungs, and send them out, naked and vulnerable, into the big scary world.
And I’m going under, dear reader. I’m entering the cave of wonders without any spelunking equipment. I’m scrambling all over the rock formations with no climbing gear. As for the portal to another universe, let’s hope it’s a friendly one—and that they do speak my language. Or can read my poems.
The journey continues. Just Keep Writing Poetry. Every day. For a year. Or more. Hopefully many more.