Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Cringe Worthy Poet





Oh dear.  You see, I've been writing poetry and creative prose since I was around 13.  I can't imagine who my influences were at the time aside from the flowery, romantic British poets we learned about in English class.  I often used slightly old fashioned, ornamented phrasing  in my poems and bizarre rhyme schemes that made sense only in my head.  But I took myself and my writing quite seriously.  If you had asked me at 14 what I wanted to be I would have said a writer.  Actually I would have said a penniless writer because that is just how seriously I took it.  I didn't just want to write, I wasn't going to be a writer unless I could be some tragic obscure figure, suffering and starving for my art.  It just wouldn't be worth it otherwise.

At the age of 14, I went off to a Catholic girls boarding school and wore a uniform every day and I met writer friends.  We purposely did things that proved we were writers like dye our hair fiery red or cut it very short or wear old man's pants we found for a couple of dollars at second hand shops.  Of course these pants we only wore after school hours when it wasn't necessary to wear our navy blue kilts and crisp white shirts.  Once we even had a weekend away from the school and daringly went to a poetry reading in a smoky cafe.  We liked obscure artsy things.  To be fair though, we also did write.

This is on my mind now because I hadn't really looked at my earlier writing for years and recently decided to pull them all out and give all that brilliance a dust off.  I don't keep much but I had kept binders and journals and scribblers full of words.  In my mind, they were quite good.  In reality, as I read, I found myself blushing, cringing and laughing to myself in a mildly embarrassed way, eyes darting nervously around the room to make sure no one was there.  My first instinct was to rid my life of the evidence.  Throwing it away would be dangerous...burning it perhaps would be wiser.  But then rather fondly, I began to think what if I had never written these things at all?  There is no doubt they were very poor pieces but we have to start somewhere.  If I would never have written them then maybe I would simply have never written at all.

My point is, we need to write bad things we think are worthy and decent at the time.  They are the stepping stones that lead us forward, into the practice of writing something halfway decent, something that doesn't embarrass us and then lastly after a very long time, perhaps if we grow and learn and stretch, we write something we are truly proud of.  Nobody starts off excellent and as much as writing is a talent, it is an extremely difficult discipline as well.

So here's to hundreds of crappy poems.  They were intensely felt but poorly executed.  They have their place in my life too. 

(I am not saying I am past the cringe worthy stage anytime soon, but I am giving it a go at least!) :)


14 comments:

  1. I love this, Colleen! I would love to read your poems. Unlike you, I never dreamed of becoming a writer (I just loved telling stories). I didn't start writing until I was 38. And, you are so right. If I want a really good laugh, I can take out and read the first draft of my manuscript. It was horrible! It took me four years to get it ready for publication. And, even still, I know I could have done better. But, we have to start somewhere and good writing comes from lots and lots of bad writing ;)

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    1. Monica, that is so inspiring actually, it just goes to show it's never too late! I admire you so much for turning that love of telling stories into a novel (one I am about to read!!!) :) and it's great to know you have some bad writing behind you too, gives me hope!:)

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  2. This is such a good reminder. I remember writing some really bad poems when I was a teenager. One was about how much I hated chemistry. lol Sadly I lost them along the way, I'd love to look back on them now.

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    1. Oh I am laughing Francine...I have a poem about math!!! My most hated subject in high school. Pretty intense stuff.;)

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  3. I loved this! When I was young, I also dreamed of becoming a writer. I kept a few papers too, and I cringe when I dare to look at them :D But you're right, we all have to start somewhere, and if anything, those writings have passion in them!

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  4. Nice read Colleen.It is true that nobody starts excellent and you get better with practice--as YOU have!Your group's attempts to look like writers are emblematic of teenage fancies-i loved it.
    I have found from my own experience that when i read an old post of mine,i see many mistakes and then i update it.Even once,twice is not sufficient.We learn as long as we live.

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    1. That is so true Indu. So long as we are willing to learn and grow and be humble enough to fail and make mistakes along the way.:)

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  5. You're so right - persitency! And how nice it must have been to see your development as a writer?
    Having had a look through your blog here, I must say, I quite enjoy your works! :)

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    1. Thank you very much! :) I have seen some development but still such a long way to go.:)

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  6. Girl! I'm so relieved I found this! I cannot comment on your Google Plus page 'cause I refuse to make a G.P. profile. I SO don't want to lose touch with you!

    I've tried MY hand at poetry, too (would have loved to have been in that "writer club" during your private school days)! Actually, have taken stabs at it lately, too I write for myself. The pure joy of it. The agony of it. The necessity of it...

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    1. Please don't lose touch with me!!:) And I understand you so well dear Rebecca.

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  7. Have you read Anne Lamott's, Bird by Bird? Oh, but you must if you have not! She addresses this very thing right off the top! :)

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    1. Hi Loretta! I haven't read it but it sounds as though I'd better. :)

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