I’m a poet and I knew it!
Okay, so poetry is not my strong point. In fact, The Irrelephant, posted last weekend, was my first real attempt at poetry in… well, pretty much forever (not counting those that I was forced to write on rare occasions in school).
So what possessed me, a hardcore Proser, to try my unskilled hand at a poem?
Well, the Irrelephant was a character who wondered in to my head several months ago. I loved him straight away, but when I tried to write a story featuring him, it just didn’t work.
After a few attempts, and a long time thinking about how I could capture him the way he deserved, I actually forgot all about the Irrelephant and moved on to other things (like not finishing The Whoopsie Daisy… oops!).
Then, a couple of weeks ago after attempting to help a friend who had bogged her car on her way to visit (hi Grace!!), I started thinking about something (I have no idea what now) that was irrelevant. And there he was, my beloved Irrelephant, just begging to be written about.
I couldn’t bear to ignore him any longer, so I put my mind to figuring out how I could bring him to life. The idea of a poem started to form, something that would capture the lighthearted fun of the Pelican limerick (more here) while telling a story.
I drew inspiration from both The Pelican and from work by Roald Dahl (who, as I have shared before, is one of my heroes), but tried to put my own spin on it.
The poem itself started forming in my mind while I was washing dishes. It’s funny how mundane tasks like that lend themselves so well to creativity. Perhaps that’s a sign that I should clean more… or not.
By the time I was getting close to finishing the dishes, sentences were rolling through my head, making me laugh out loud. I was so eager to start I almost left the last few things and ran to my computer, but I resisted the urge.
One particular stanza that I thought up while cleaning really grabbed me, so I used that as my starting point to shape the rest of the poem… and then ended up scrapping it in the final stages, when I realised it just didn’t gel.
I must admit, writing the poem was a painful process for me, and the whole time I felt like a fraud. Bad poetry can assault the eyes and ears, and I was truly terrified that that was exactly what I was creating.
Still, this morning, a week after starting the actual writing process, I wrote the last stanza (which had me stumped all week) and did my final cut and clean up. I posted it to the website, and then hesitantly announced it on Facebook and Twitter (the post on the official Squeaky Shoe Stories Facebook page even said “Be kind…”. Yeah, I was scared!).
My biggest hope was that even if people didn’t like it, they at least wouldn’t hate it enough to tell me about it! I’m usually prepared for criticisms, but for something I really haven’t done before that I thought I would be pretty useless at, I felt a little vulnerable.
But, to my surprise and delight, people actually seemed to like it! Crazy, right? I spent so much time worrying that I had done a horrible job and everyone would hate it, and I’m sure there are people out there who wouldn’t enjoy it, but some people did! They even enjoyed it enough to tell me about it!
I have to say, that is a very good feeling.
I’m so glad I bit the bullet and posted that poem, just to know that I can do it and it won’t necessarily be as terrible as I thought (although I can’t vouch for any future ones I write).
Sometimes fears about our own inadequacies can hold us back from putting ourselves out there for criticism, but the fact is there will always be people who like what you do as well as the people who don’t, so don’t let that hold you back from doing something that’s important to you.
It’s your life to live, so live it for you – whatever that means.
How about you guys? Any epiphanies this week? Any budding poets bursting to share? Any limericks about yours truly? (If so, please share – it would make my day to star in my very own limerick!)
ps. This week also saw the debut of a new blog, In the Reading Chair, over at SuperLiving.com.au. This post focuses on my thoughts about e-books versus traditional books. You can find that post right here =)
- The Irrelephant (squeakyshoestories.com)
- Twenty Little Poetry Projects, by the late poet, Jim Simmerman (copyright1982.wordpress.com)