“What if I wrote a book of poetry?” This idea came in unexpectedly, like when a lone street lamp lights up at dusk. I experienced this thought quite some time ago- while out on a walk in nature. There were many months of denying this idea, of arguing for my limitations, of explaining why I could never do such a thing. I am lucky that this idea was persistent enough to stay along for that roller coaster of emotion.
After first deciding to embark upon this journey, the poetry would come at random moments. Once a poem came to me after laughing so hard my cheeks hurt. It was during a yoga class I was taking with some friends. It was the type of forbidden laughter. The kind where the atmosphere is supposed to be quiet but that makes the whole situation that much more hilarious. Another one came to me after I had one of my low days of complete sadness and emotional fatigue. I was feeling awful, and all day I filled with numbing activities: watching Netflix, eating, sleeping. That evening I went outside and sat on the grass. The poem came to me right at that moment. Writing it down was a healing balm for the melancholy. This was my process for the first several months. 1) Live life the way I know how. 2) Allow poetry to randomly partner with me. 3) Write it down in the moment. I would usually write 1 poem per month or so with this method.
Eventually I decided that I wanted to be a bit more productive. I committed to sit down and write every day. Sometimes, this works beautifully. I will write a couple of words that I was particularly in love with that day. Sometimes the words would organically form a stanza, which would eventually become a whole poem. Other times, I felt as if I didn’t have a single creative bone in my body, so I distracted myself with a million different things I “needed” to do. I realized this distraction came from being afraid I wasn’t qualified or creative enough to actually fulfill this dream. It’s much easier to help other people with their goals/needs/agendas than it is to keep a promise I made quietly to myself.
One of the practices that has really helped me keep going in this process is this: I give myself permission to write poorly. Write down things that don’t make sense. Put all the chaos and clutter that’s in my mind down on the page. I have been amazed at how this works in creating beautiful pieces! It begs me to ponder: where else am I holding off on action, just because I can’t create an automatic masterpiece? Works of art don’t happen in a flash. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take failure. It’s going to take strength, realness, and honesty.
Now, I allow myself to utilize all of these creative methods. I notice when poems visit me randomly. Since I know they love to come when I’m in a forest or garden or field- I go to these places as frequently as I can! I do my best to keep the promise I made to myself, and sit down and write most days. I write anything and everything, the good, the confusion, the realness-- all of it. I write the words that speak my truth, the words that open my eyes, the words that heal my wounds.