I’ve been writing poetry since I was ten years old. I’d like to think I’m good at it, but I’m probably not. Still, I keep at it because if I didn’t write poetry, I’d have a nutty. Seriously. Poetry helps keep me sane. It’s an outlet for not only my creativity, but for my emotions. You see, I’m not the best at expressing myself. I’m one of those annoying types that keeps everything bottled up until I explode. Writing helps with that. Kind of relieves some of the pressure, you know.
But anybody who knows anything about writing poetry knows that it’s hard. Much harder than writing fiction, I think. It can take me months to churn out a poem I’m semi-satisfied with. Unfortunately, the satisfaction usually doesn’t last very long before the doubt sets in.
I don’t know what it is about poetry that makes me hate myself so much. I don’t feel that way about struggling to write fiction or blog posts. Something about poetry just gets under my skin and makes me think unreasonably.
Here are some common thoughts I have while I’m writing poetry:
“That sounds stupid.”
“This is so cliché.”
“Does that metaphor even make sense?”
“This rhyme sounds so juvenile.”
“Dumb duMB DUMB.”
Which are all valid arguments, I suppose. A cliché can be overused, and a metaphor can become too convoluted. It’s the vitriol behind the criticisms that bothers me. Especially when my thought patterns turn away from criticizing my writing to criticizing myself.
“You’re so stupid.”
“Why do you even bother? Nobody is going to like it.”
“You should just give up right now.”
Sometimes it’s tempting to quit. Sometimes I wish I had never started writing. I want to be able to do what I love and hone my craft, but how can I do that when sometimes I can’t even force myself to touch fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper? Writing has become akin to pulling teeth and I get so down on myself for struggling so hard with something I once thought I excelled at.
And then, just when I’m drowning in a deep pit of self-hate, it happens: I get a burst of inspiration. And I write something and it’s good and I feel so happy that finally, I have something I can be proud of.
…Then the whole cycle starts over again and I'm back to hating myself. But it’s those moments of inspiration, those moments of Aha! that keeps me coming back.
Oh poetry, thou art a heartless bitch.