Last year, late in March (after the pandemic sent me home from the office, a place I have yet to return to but once), I set myself a goal. To release a poem each and every day for an entire year. I would try to write at least one poem a day, but missed days could be made up with effort on others, whether from inspiration or sheer refusal to stop until I wrote something.
It all began with a poem I wrote and shared with friends on discord. A poem about the thoughts I felt, driving home from work, with the beautiful Rockies in my view. A poem that received some listens early, and a great deal of appreciation from friends who listened to it, but it also did not catch on with any of soundcloud’s algorithms. This is that poem
Over the course of the year and 365+ poems, I relearned an important lesson. I cannot judge how others will react to my own work. A track that I dashed off without that much effort, Unbreak the Broken, sits at 167 listens. I do not believe any other single track has even a third the numbers. Many tracks never get heard at all, not that that means anything about the quality, only that no one happened to get that one recommended to them. Below is the link for Unbreak the Broken, for those who are curious.
Even so, every day I felt that fear as another poem went up. Another chance to expose myself, reveal a piece of who and what I am. Not that writing a poem about something means you believe it. The writing, however, shows it is something you think about, on some level. The opinion may not linger on the surface of the words, but underneath, if you hold your breath and look hard enough, a shape begins to take form.
All my life I have struggled with sharing my art. I rarely let people read the novels I write (Six have at least an entire first draft completed) because of my fear of revealing myself. This exercise was a step towards fixing that. Learning to accept the fear for what it was, a natural reaction to revealing myself, but not allowing that feeling to hold me hostage.
After a year, I’ve learned a lot about myself, as a poet, as a writer, and as a person. I had some bad, even very bad, days over that time, many with nothing to do with writing. But all of it goes into the compost that turns into words and images. And whether I was a writer or not, I would have suffered those moments, so hopefully the sharing of my pain through my art might help someone else feel seen and understood.
I also learned a lot about finding poems. Some start as a single image, a thing never experienced in this life. Some were tied to a book I was working on, but I decided to double dip and include the rough draft of the poem for “free work”. Others I took a memory, as I did with Mountain Top Dreams. Though MTD was that as well as the opening stanza poured into me without much active thought on my part, I simply had to put in the effort to dig up the rest of what lay beneath the surface. And none of these ways is any better than any other, though the ones where an entire stanza leapt to mind likely took the last time to get down a first draft.
This experience of writing a poem every day has been a long, tiring, wonderful trip through myself, and learning to let things go out into the world. I am grateful past me took up the challenge, told people about it so I felt accountable, and went through with it.
But now, as is often the case, the challenge must change, as I must change if I am to continue on my journey of growth in poetry.
Beginning Sunday (April 4th, 2021) I will switch to publishing a poem a week instead of a poem a day. I will still try to write poetry on a regular basis, but now I will begin working on both the art of deeper editing, and, more importantly I think, the art of curating what I write. Early on I would regularly write from two to four poems, then pick the best and add them to my publishing backlog. As time went on, I began to publish almost everything I wrote, and there are certainly times I believe the quality suffered for it.
There is a risk a poem that speak to others will not make the cut, but I will also try to promote some poems from week to week, if they do not make the initial cut but seem promising. More than one chance at life. Something most of us have experienced, whether we feel as if we deserve it or not. Such is the way with words as well.
Another part of this project, I intend, is to begin to write ABOUT the poems I publish each week, here on this medium blog, posts that I will link to from the soundcloud entry for that week’s poem. I also intend to tweet out these links as well. My thoughts on how I found the poem, if I put in any particular work (worksheeting from Write Better Lyrics, for example) and perhaps even explore various line/word/stanza considerations. Be up front about my process.
Am I some sort of expert? No, but perhaps doing this will show someone else the beauty of chasing poetry, and inspire them as I was inspired by various people. Time will tell.
Also, I will not necessarily only use this blog for poetry. I’m starting to dive into game development again, and games as a story medium. I could imagine myself writing about that. Or even writing about prose as I start my next novel (or continue to edit the Space Opera a couple of my friends are currently reading).