Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Prose vs. Poetry August 25, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 10:17 PM
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I used to write a lot of poetry. I don’t know why. Probably, as a kid, it seemed like the easiest literary form to tackle. Poems are short. They don’t have to follow proper grammatical and structural rules. As some avant garde works demonstrate, they don’t even have to make sense. Seeing this free form, falsely simple art form beckoning, I launched myself at it with abandon.

A few weeks ago I went through a lot of stuff in preparation for leaving home. Desk drawers, school files, art projects, folders… my purge took me back through years and years of my doodles and scribblings. It appears that some gems evaded my trash can for over a decade.

Besides some truly hideous drawings, I discovered countless clumsy child’s attempts at poetry. Most of the time, I’d thrown a bunch of loosely related words at the page and called it a day. Occasionally I tried to conform to what children are told is ‘proper’ poetry, squeezing in awkward and trite rhymes because I thought I had to. Although these poems could not be called good, there is a certain… something to them. Eagerness, almost. As a child, I was in love with the world around me. I wanted to get my impressions down on paper, word vomit or not.

Some of these early works are rather disturbing. I never enjoyed the illusions of immortality many children possessed. Instead, at times I dealt with an almost crippling fear of death. A few of the poems I found spoke to that. Another that I don’t remember writing at all (and can’t name an age for, although it’s younger than thirteen) begins in a rather over-dramatic and alarming manner:

cross my heart and hope to die

can’t see the sun in bloody skies

Yeeaaaaaaaaaahhh…. no clue. Maybe I was a junior Satanist.

Anyway, what this archival binge shows me is that I used to express most of my emotions via poetry. Now I lean toward prose. I hadn’t written a poem in months until two days ago, when I had a sudden urge and turned out two or three. Even my prose is over-wordy and typically needs to be pared down. What changed? Is it a teenage tendency to be long-winded and redundant? What’s your preferred genre for your deepest feelings?


Why Am I Not More Excited? January 11, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 5:55 PM
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Today another envelope from Teen Ink arrived. I opened it, and sure enough, they’d sent me the December issue.

First of all, I’ve got to say that that was pretty cool of them. After all, I emailed the standard editor address, and they must get hundreds of emails every day. Yet a few weeks later they sent me the correct copy. The address was even written in pen. That’s customer service.

I flipped through the pages, and there it was. My poem. The accents (there’s some French included) and the italics were missing, which was too bad. Formatting probably is lost in translation between submissions and layout. I know our newspaper InDesign software cancels italics. Still, there it was. My poem. In print. Published.

Why am I not jumping for joy?

I’m not sure. I doubt it’ll be any  different if I had a short story published, or a novel, or if I actually got paid. Perhaps I can chalk this ambivalence up to exhaustion, but it worries me. Shouldn’t I feel more satisfaction from seeing my dream come true, albeit in a small way? Of course, they say everything you hope for in life isn’t as exciting once you get it, but still…

If I win the Scholastic Writing Awards, though, I’m pretty sure there will be screeching involved.