The Importance of Failing, or, Waking the Flailing Beast

Posted by on May 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm.

At the beginning of April, I hadnt written a poem in six months. It’s an awful feeling, knowing that I essentially ignored a huge part of who I am, who I want to be. But ignored isn’t the right word.

On several occasions, I stared into a legal pad with my favorite pen in hand, I stared into my computer with hands hovering above home row, and I stared into the mirror with a dry erase marker — all of my favorite ways to write — without success. It came in drips and drabs sometimes, and I’d have a two-line bits that might be part of a poem someday but aren’t even worth calling fragments, but I never wrote a poem.

Often I was too distracted with planning a wedding or looking for a job or trying to start my new life in Chicago. And honestly, I also had to reckon with the fact that I had cable TV for the first time since college. But I never should have stopped writing poems, and I’m not sure why I did. I kept trying to write, but never figured out how to start again.

So I found myself coming into National Portry Month wanting to be a poet again. I always knew people chose to write a poem a day in April, and I never thought it was for me. Even I’m my most disciplined times, I couldn’t write every day. I’m far more likely to write 1-3 poems in an hour, then revisit them for a week or two of editing, and that’s a fine pace for me. At least it was.

I decided to try a poem a day on the train ride to work on April 1, and I wrote the first poem on the train home. I decided to post my poems as Notes on Facebook called “Poem a Day 2013: Poem Title.” An easy way to track myself, and a good way to share it with the poet community I left behind in Gainesville.

I had a strong first few days and then…a not so strong rest of the month. I would write a few days in a row, then not write a few days in a row. By the middle of April, I felt ridiculous labeling them “Poem a Day,” but I kept doing it anyway because I was committed to finishing in some way. Some days, I was traveling and didn’t have (or didn’t make) time to write. Others, I procrastinated with house cleaning or computer organizing. And then, I dealt with days where I stared into the screen and all that came out was fragments or incomplete sentences.

But I was writing again.

In the strictest sense of the word, I failed at my April poetry project, but I accomplished the real objective. The box score for April has 12 poems(a few of which don’t need a ton of editing), 5 fragments, and 13 one-liners for poems — a pretty good month. I’m back to work and it feels good.

As long as I keep this up, I think it’s safe to call myself a poet again.

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