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!) :)