Getting Back to Business

I’ve said this often, I am a terrible procrastinator. I’ve spent too much time (years really) attempting to either perfect every poem or simply find every excuse of why I cannot find the time to write. Every moment I look up and realize how much time has passed since I graduated grad school I get a little bit sad, a little bit disappointed with myself. I drench myself in thoughts of “I should have my book by now…,” “I should have published x amount of poems by now,” “I should be writing x amount of hours everyday,” “I haven’t written in so long how can I call myself a writer?” And so on and so on. In my mind I know that I have too long been my own worst critic, stopping myself before I’ve even started.

When I do find the time to sit down and write I remember how much I love it and how much I miss the excitement of finishing the draft of a poem, or the challenge of finding the right word to replace a general one, or rearranging lines and stanzas until it just feels right. It’s exhilarating. Yet once that session is done I do not return to the writing table for a long time. Insert excuses here. The list becomes longer and longer. I mask my insecurities about writing with the excuse that I do not have enough time. I’m too busy with tomorrow’s workload and meeting. I have to teach. I have to do this. I have to do that. Now that I have a child I have hit the mother load of excuses.

But the truth, as it always is, is that I do have the time to write. I have the talent to write. I have the love and the passion to write. I have the utensils to write and I have an abundance of books and music and such to inspire me to write. All I really need to do is remember the fun, remember the exhilaration of putting pen to paper (yes, Pen.To.Paper) and finding those infinite combinations of words that form my stories, my voice, the voices and stories of others. When I was a young writer that was my answer whenever I was asked why I enjoy writing. I was in aw of the infinite possibilities of combinations of words, of how no matter what words we use every day can be put together differently to make a new sentence, phrase, emotion, etc.

As writers we can reach a point, when get to the place of MFA’s and fellowships and publications, where we can lose touch with our younger writer selves who wrote because yes, we were angst-y, and in love, and broken-hearted, and happy, and all we wanted to do was the tell the world about it. When I’m with my students and they are performing their poems, or I’m listening to poems of other students I become nostalgic. I become so filled up with possibility and free-ness. Young writers are so free and un-hinged in a way that causes me to remember why I pursued writing in the first place, the days when I felt that if I wasn’t a writer then I didn’t know what I was meant to be on this Earth. A little melo-dramatic? Maybe. But true.

Somewhere along the way I started taking myself to seriously and between the fear of both failing and succeeding, and worse being mediocre. (Issues, right?) Once, I had a conversation with one of my professors about the fear of success. It’s crazy to think that anyone can be so afraid of being successful that it prevents them from pursuing their art. Tony Medina often mentioned the sadness of those writers who were great writers, but were so caught up in their fears that the only published one book or one body of work. In some ways I understand that fear, as odd it is. What if you do write something great and that one piece of work is your peak? How can you top the expectations of those who are waiting for you to do something else amazing? It sounds self-centered, but it’s a legitimate reserve for some writers. I can admit that I have read a work by a writer, watched a movie or show by a director, and the follow-up work was lackluster and I was disappointed in the second experience. Who am I to have that judgment? No one, really. Yet these are the types of thoughts writers allow to cripple them.

I don’t want to be one of those writers. I’m trying my best to be done with the excuses, to find myself mixed between not giving a fuck and giving a fuck, between youth and obligation. I am a writer and I want to be a great writer which includes a necessary discipline. I have the time to write. Housewives and Scandals (oh the guilty pleasures!) can wait. Someone, even if it’s only one, will like something I write. I have always said that if one person is influenced or touched by my writing then that’s all that matters, that I’ve done my job and I have to hold fast to that idea and hold myself accountable. I just have to have fun, again.

 

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