Saturday, February 23, 2013

Poetic Justification


Personally, this past few months has been incredible for me from a writing standpoint. Since early December, I have had two articles published and two poems accepted for publication. Furthermore, the two articles, published in MidWest Outdoors magazine, paid $30 each. Not retirement money, or really even gas money, but a nice perk nonetheless. Most serious writers might scoff at such paltry publishing accomplishments, but for me it is all a bit surreal. 

You see, when I started to take my writing seriously a few years ago, I never dreamed I would be published multiple times, let alone in two different genres. To say I have already surpassed what I'd hoped to accomplish when I started would not be far from the truth. I'm humbled by the many publications that have said "yes" to my work and in the process, have validated my skills as a writer. Like most in the trade, I am quick to shoot myself down, criticize my own work, and second guess all that I am trying to do. It's nice to know that others think better of me than I do.

The thing about getting those acceptance notices is that every one is just as exciting as the first. Furthermore each one spurs me to work harder at getting the next thing published. The whole process is a bit addictive. 

What floors me most though, has been my success with poetry. When I started this gig, poetry was not even on my radar. I always appreciated it, but if you had told me 4 years ago that I'd be writing it, and having success with it, I would have laughed you out of the room. My gift is creative nonfiction, and to venture outside of that was not in the plans either. 

But strange things happen in a writing workshop.

In my case, my initial poetic inspiration came in the person of Mario, a poet, musician and Buddhism student. He was a student in class when I first started going to AllWriters' in 2010. Like most poets, some of his stuff I just didn't "get". At the same time, when his stuff was good, it scintillated. It was mind-bending, thought provoking and sometimes shocking. It evoked emotion and demanded attention and processing. All the things good poetry is supposed to do. He may not realize it, but he was an inspiration for me to start dabbling in something that I now have great appreciation for.

Inspiration also came from others in the class as well. Kathy, a poet first and foremost who was stretching herself by trying her hand at World War II fiction, wrote wonderful stuff as well. Alita was prolific at writing poems about her mother and family. Later on it took the form of Kristina, Karen, Kris, and Ellen who wrote of relationships, love, loss and even french fries. Beautiful stuff, sprinkled with the occasional clunker, like all writing, but all of it from the heart.

To all of these people, as well as my instructor Kathie, and all the other workshop writers not mentioned here who have supported me as I stretched myself through this unexpected medium, I have to say thank you. Thank you for your advice, your constructive criticism and even your ridicule when it was deserved. You guys energize me and I owe as much to you as to my own efforts.

So, I will continue to struggle with what it means to enjoy and write and appreciate poetry probably for the rest of my life. It's not something I signed up for, and frankly I'm still not sure what to do with it. Until I figure that out, I guess I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing...because it sure is a whole lot of fun.

Blogging off...

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