i am not a poet

.017 – This is a thing I said I would do.

I don’t like mysteries, but I like things that are mysterious. I don’t take great joy in solving puzzles, but I do take great joy in the puzzling of it. 

A couple years ago I decided that I was going to buckle down and learn to appreciate and understand poetry.  It’s not that I’ve spent the better part of my life hating it. I memorized Frost’s ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ when my 8th grade class did their reading of The Outsiders. I suffered through Donne’s ‘The Flea’ in high school, though I’m still not sure it means everything we were taught it means. I fell fast and hard for Rumi and Bukowski in college, because they put words together in ways that made me understand the things I was feeling. No, it’s not that I hated poetry, it’s that I’d spent the better part of my life taking poetry for granted. Why should these groupings of words, often simultaneously dense and spare, mean more to me than any other groupings? After all, I can’t put together words like that. Why waste my time on studying word groupings that I don’t plan on emulating?

For some reason, 2010 felt like a good time to change that. I don’t know if it’s because I was starting to be more proactive about my life in general, or if it was because I had words caught inside of me that wouldn’t be wrangled into long-form prose, but I decided not to take this beloved form of self-expression for granted anymore. I started collecting recommendations. I started reading everything.

Finally, eventually, I got a better handle on it. Though I felt like I still didn’t understand what gave my favorite poets and poems that spark. I thought, then, that maybe I needed to understand poetry from the inside out. Maybe I needed to try and write some of my own. Last May I quietly started a Tumblr blog where I intended to put one poem a day, regardless of worth or beauty. I needed to practice sitting down and corralling words, rather than letting them lead me.

Some of those poems are terrible, but complete strangers still liked or reblogged them. Some of them are pretty decent, but need a lot of work to make them worth their time. Some of them helped me to voice things I hadn’t been able to voice up until then. When that happened I felt like I’d finally gotten it. I felt like I finally understood why some people gravitated towards poetry rather than prose.  Some stories don’t need a full arc. Sometimes moments are enough to make another person understand. Some things can only be digested in moments, I think. Which isn’t to say that a poem can’t tell a whole story, because they often do.

The reason I’m making this post is because this morning I was considering doing a poem a day again.  I’m already a day behind to do it in May, but it’s not like I can’t run over into June for a day.  And a poem a day might even keep the therapist away. But as I was considering this I realized that I might not want to publish all of them on the tumblr.  I might want to keep some of them to myself, to work and render and turn into something worthy of sending out into the world officially.  I realized that, while I find I still don’t feel like I ‘understand’ poetry, I want to be a part of it.  I think I would like to be a poet.

That’s a scary thought.  But I have that poem coming out in the fall. And I have another that Alli pretty much refuses to let me send to a place that isn’t an actual literary magazine, because she likes it that much. I owe a lot to a lot of my friends and their belief in me, no matter how misguided I fear it is. So I might as well gather up some belief for myself. I’m just a blunt shovel, but I’d like to be a spade, I think.

It’s an ongoing battle.  If you’re curious the Secret Poetry Tumblr is here. Feel free to follow along or leave notes and crit.  I’m a pretty strong believer in crit for any form of writing.

For getting through that, here’s a poem by a living poet who inspires me gads. I still want to be Margaret Atwood when I grow up, but I’d feel pretty amazing if I somehow became Anis Mojgani on the way.

Anis Mojgani – Come Closer

.014 – April.

Before I launch into the recap of first quarter of relative failure I wanted to share the link to a short write up that Sierra Houk did about the Wrong Opinions About Movies Podcast that I am lucky enough to be on with my friend Matthew Bowers and my writing partner Alli Martin.  It’s great fun for me to be able to discuss movies with my friends on the internet, but it’s even more fun if other people get in on the conversation.  Today we recorded our Titanic episode and in the coming months we’ll be doing a whole slew of Batman episodes with special guests in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises.  If you like movies and wrong opinions give us a listen!

So, back to March!

Words: 5,776

Flubs: That is a depressing number and I know it.  I would feel bad about it, but most everyone I know also had a bad March, word-wise.  Divided we blunder, together we procrastinate!  March was a rough month in general mentally, which isn’t an excuse, but it is part of the problem.  And now that I’ve rooted out where I am I can start to rebuild and get back to the important things.  The writing things.

Looking back at my Impossible 2012 Plan, this month I have failed at: completing Volunteer Vampires, finishing the rough of my parts of of The Steampunk, and submitting a second poem for publication.  I haven’t started a second short story either, but I’ve decided I need to try and be less ADD  about everything that directly affects the rest of my life.   We’ll see how that goes.

I will continue to be ADD in the day to day, though, lest you’re concerned I’ll stop derailing conversations with ridiculous non sequiturs.  Worry not!

Follow Throughs: But I DID start the second round edit of my friend’s manuscript and submit a poem for publication.  In case you missed my yelping when I got the news, that poem was accepted!  I will have a steampunk themed poem in the fall issue of a small online poetry zine–which I will link back to when it goes up–and I am very excited about it.  The non-writing people around me don’t understand my excitement, because it’s not “really being published”, but I don’t expect them to.  My writing friends understand and I feel personally like it’s a good start and a small victory in the war with myself, so I’m excited.  I wrote a poem!  People didn’t hate it!  I now need to carry that ego boost into a forward momentum and see what other things I can churn out that people won’t hate.

Words to date: 24,411

And onward to April!

I am going to finish the draft of Volunteer Vampires THIS WEEK, even if it kills me.  Alli knows where to submit it for me posthumously if I do die.  Barring that unfortunate possibility I am also going to write at least two more chapters of The Steampunk and edit half of my friend’s manuscript.

I can do this.  Deep breaths.  One railway tie at a time.  Or at least, that’s what I imagine my good luck hard work charm telling me.   



Oh, February, is that you?  I didn’t see you standing there.  As you’ve probably noted, intelligent scamp that you are, things around here are a bit of a mess at the moment.  Please make yourself comfortable on the couch while I tidy up.  Have a biscuit?

The plan for January was less impossible than the plan for the coming months, since I didn’t even sit down and outline my yearly goals until about the fifteenth or so.  In January I wanted merely to complete a draft of the short story I’m working on and then start in earnest on the novel that I’m writing with my compatriot (Coming Soon!).

Words: 9,461

I did not get a rough draft of Volunteer Vampires completed.  I got hung up in the science of it, which I think I need to just stop doing for right now.  It’s already mad and impossible that there are vampires in space in the 19th century, I’m probably just wasting time worrying over whether they could locate the source of a message being beamed from deep space.  I know that my novel co-writer likes to tinker out the science and make sure it’s technically possible, but I also know that scifi doesn’t always need that information.  Hell, I just re-watched Ghost in the Shell last night, and while they spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over what a ‘person’ is, they spend absolutely no time talking about how it’s possible for the Major’s camouflage to work the way it does or how androids work.  They’re just accepted parts of the world.  I think I’m at the stage where I need to accept things and move on with the story.  If it’s really important that they pinpoint where a sound is coming from I can work on it in edits.

I also did not get more than a chapter into the Steampunk novel we’re working on.  We’ve been talking about it for years now and trying to get all the pieces in the right places and I’ve been itchy to just write things for months.  I need to get on that so I can have better, more accomplished news at the beginning of next month.

Follow throughs:
However, we did get a good, solid outline down.  And even though there are still a few niggling questions, I at least feel like I know enough about what’s happening between our characters and where they are in the first half of the book that I can just sit down and start to get it out.  That’s a good feeling.

I also wrote a silly poem and tinkered about with, not only other bits of the Steampunk, but the Big Damn Existential Science Fiction Novel, which is the third novel length thing in the stall at the moment.  So many ideas, so little execution.  But well, that’s what I’m out to cure this year.

Words To Date: 9,461

The plan for February is to hit the ground running, catch up with January, and then execute the following:
Have a completed draft of Volunteer Vampires done and sent to my betas. Make sure that by the end of the month it’s ready to submit to the anthology I’m assuming is happening.  *fingers crossed*

Have a rough draft of half of the Steampunk novel.

Write a poem to submit…somewhere.  I’ll need to go through that issue of Poets & Writers I bought and look at different markets.  I fully admit that poetry is not a part of the industry I usually keep an eye on. And it’s all just kind of a silly bet with myself, really.  We’ll see where that goes.

So, that’s that.  Should be easy enough, provided I just sit down and do it.  If ChairToBum glue was a thing, I would look into buying stock for it.

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