Finally got up the courage to start going through my two huge filing cabinets that stand against the back wall of my bedroom closet (it’s a very large space, almost an extra room). Also dug out a memory stick with nothing but poetry on it. Hit the mother lode in the top drawer of the second cabinet. Most of my class folders from college, including those from my four different semesters of Creative Writing Poetry. Exactly what I had hoped to find.
Went to college late, started when I was thirty-seven, and my first day there coincided with my youngest’s first day of kindergarten. The irony isn’t lost on me, it makes me laugh out loud. We were very much in the same exact place, except I drove myself to school, after watching her board a school bus with her much wiser fifteen month older sister. Yes,
I wished I’d had my sister with me.
What I found in those folders, besides the poem I had been looking for to fill that hole I mentioned last time, was the basics of my own writing process. There are as many as five different drafts for each piece. Many of them make huge cuts to the original writing, while others only change one or two words. I might have been a kindergartner in the classroom college scene, but I was old enough to comprehend that first time around is only a try-out and you build experience and knowledge by repeated applications. Practice, more and more practice.
Somewhere in that mother-lode, I also found a copy of the campus newspaper with one of my first poems published in it for winning first place in the first writing contest held at the University. That took place before the poetry writing classes and determined my strong and driven pursuit of learning how to do this stuff. The story of that experience can be found on the About Page of my poetry blog, here: http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/
I didn’t know anything about poetry, so how could I win a Poetry Contest? Mainly through the help and support of a very kind man. And later, through those repeated drafts of practicing this craft of honing words. Those drafts were my own process notes. I never forgot how lost I felt when encountering that first section of poetry in my English 101 class. We’d dipped our fingertips in High School, and I was simply grateful to get through and out of it alive. It was a foreign language to me and I hated it because I loved words, language, music, and story-telling. This should have been easy for me, yet was anything but.
Last time I posted here about leaning in to listen to my own voice. These posts are very similar. They are process notes. We learn best from our own experience. So, although these posts have been done on the spur of the moment, they are me making a map of the current process I am involved in, writing a book of poetry. Putting all the pieces together, one at a time. Staying aware of the larger picture, while honing the individual and separate small pieces as best I can.
Who knows? Maybe there is another individual out there who needs to hear what I am in the process of doing. Maybe not the same, but a similar process, and needs an encouraging and supportive hand. I did.
Image is another early doodle done in pen and ink.