When I was in high school and college, I wrote stories and poems all the time. You'll laugh, but I actually thought that getting my Ph.D. was a "sensible" choice, as opposed to attempting to become some silly thing like a poet. (Not that becoming a poet is "sensible," per se, but it's no less sensible than going to grad school in English, as far as I can tell.) I was editor of my college's literary magazine (which I resurrected from the ashes - it had gone defunct prior to my arrival), I took workshops in poetry and fiction writing, I would give readings of my poems in public venues.
So anyway, graduate school, well, it did something to me where I stopped writing for myself. I came to believe that nothing I could write would ever be close to what I love reading, and it all just stopped. The stories went first, and later, the poems. I just didn't have it in me to write crap anymore, or so I explained it to myself. I've often thought that graduate school taught me too much - that graduate school ultimately ruined me for writing creative pieces. I should also note that I felt like graduate school ruined me for reading for a long time, too. I would say that I spent 5 or so years reading almost nothing just because I wanted to read it (unless I was rereading, which is something I've always done).
When I got my job, I returned to reading - reading for me. Not as much during the academic year, but still, I read for myself again. But the "creative" writing never returned. I had a scholarly book to write, articles to write, reviews to write, conference papers to write. And then I had this blog to write, which while in some ways creative, is also in many ways just me spewing. Or it's journalistic, or it's just... well, it somehow doesn't "count" in the same way. Which of course is why it's awesome, though it's also not quite the same sort of risk.
Sure, I've had moments where I've wanted to write a story or a poem. I've even attempted to participate in Nanowrimo once (though that lasted only about a week or two). I still jot down ideas, and I still think, "Oh, someday, that will be the thing, just not now, I'm not ready, I don't have the experiences I need to do anything really good...." (Of course, then I think about a writer like Zadie Smith who is a literary darling and who is my age, and I think that I'm an idiot because it's not like she had all this grand life experience when she was in her early 20s and published White Teeth, and no, I don't believe I'm Zadie Smith, but seriously - I'm definitely way more cool than Stephenie Meyer who's about my age and who is a zillionaire, so perhaps my problem is one of confidence, and not one of talent.)
But so today I sat down and wrote a poem. Unselfconsciously. I just felt like I had a poem in me, and I wrote a poem. Now, sure, it's probably crap. But I wrote it. Without overthinking it, and without worrying over it.
It's probably not very good. It's surely not revised.
Again, I think it's probably crap. But it's what happened today. And I'm kind of excited that it happened, even if it's crap.
5 years ago