Letter from My 48th Year (May 21)
I remembered today, for the first time in too long a time, that this year of the blog wasn’t supposed to be writing about the “big” things. I was actually supposed to be trying to capture what this year feels and smells and tastes like, which sometimes leads to writing about the “big” things, but is by no means requirement.
So with that firmly in mind, I’m going to fire this puppy up again as I’ve missed you all while I’ve been sitting here on the couch thinking big thoughts that I just haven’t wanted to share. I think because I had nothing definitive to say about them, and I still struggle with being fully comfortable amidst uncertainty.
The thing I’ve been thinking about the most is why my manuscript has been up on the wall for a few months now yet I’ve made no progress past putting the poems in an initial order. I’ve been doing poetry things–a few readings, working on a collaborative poem with Jen, buying poetry books and sometimes even reading them–but my own work has been on hold.
There’s no one answer why everything has come to a full stop, but a jumble of reasons. For probably the first time since I was a young poet, I’ve been experiencing major doubt about my work. Is it good enough? Who wants to read it? Blah blah blah. I’ve read some of the poems at readings and the audience response has shown me the work is good. Still I’ve been paralyzed about moving forward. It’s been occurring to me that the reason I’m afraid is because in many ways this project is a huge risk for me. I’m making myself vulnerable in a way I haven’t before. There is no coded language in this poem, nothing to hide the raw grief and rage behind. Which is what makes the poems powerful but also scares the poet shitless. Sigh.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the fact that the writing of these poems is probably the longest time I’ve spent being close to my father, to having him be part of my life day and night. And once this project is finished, I will let go of that. It will be something like losing my father all over again which feels confusing as the poems are so much about never having held onto him in the first place. But grief and love are complicated and both seem to contradict themselves willy nilly.
At any rate, whatever the reason, it’s been more rewarding to indulge in my beloved crime dramas and historical romances than to move forward. But I suppose at some point, like tonight, I do actually have to move forward. Sigh. But as Pastor Clark preached yesterday, we need to get as far away from reluctance as we possibly can. It’s only by moving forward willingly, that both the grace and the joy come. So here I go…