How in the world does one begin, pretty much anything? And I don’t mean that in some faux existential philosophical way, but in a serious way–it seems to me, the days become rote expressions of the previous day, and, therefore, routine is granted a priority that a beginning seems like an exotic thing. And yes, I’m talking about beginning to put away the folded laundry.
At work yesterday, I forgot my phone. On my phone is Spotify and iTunes, which I listen to while I mow acres of grass for hours. Also, my radio headphones, which serve as both protection from the sound of said mower and as a back-up music source should anything befall said phone, had dead batteries. Therefore, I was sans music. And this is what I realized: writing a poem is the same thing as moving to Georgia.
Clarification: I’m a poet. I guess. I mean, I have an MFA, emphasis in poetry. I have, therefore, written poems, some of which have been collected together to form a ‘book,’ otherwise known as a thesis. This thesis exists as the, current, pinnacle of my poetry writing career. This, in turn, makes me feel rather indifferent to the idea of referring to myself in either term of ‘writer’ or ‘poet,’ because having a thesis doesn’t seem like much to me. Also, I have long had a rocky relationship with the idea of writing, especially poetry. I never seem to understand what makes writing good–what I mean, I think, is that writing is, in essence, supposed to be enjoyed, but enjoyed isn’t necessarily good, but then again how can one enjoy something that one doesn’t actually think is good? And I have no idea. It all makes my head hurt. I had a professor who thought Berryman’s ‘Dream Songs’ were fantastic, and I tried really hard to get it. But in the end, I didn’t. I didn’t like reading the poems, I didn’t want to turn the page to a new poem, I had no desire to work my way through it. But because I was being told it was good, I kept trying to make myself see it as good. It’s pretty much the same relationship I have with bands like Radiohead: I hear enough about how good they are, so I keep trying to like them, but in reality I just don’t. This, however, leaves me feeling like I’m missing something. And that ‘something’ tends to make me feel wrong.
As such, my level of belief in writing, my own or otherwise, tends to be low. I feel like a person whose faith gets rocked because God ‘didn’t listen’ when needed or something.
it seems to me that writing is about establishing a singular voice and then just finding a way to repeat said voice over and over; it’s merely repetition, and if it’s lauded, then the repetition is a good thing; if it is not, then you are a failure. But to try something new, to, say switch your singing voice like Chris from Saves the Day, means to alienate the people who previously thought you were good. Improvement is only covering up the repetition enough to make people feel like it is new while giving them exactly what they wanted. And so, what the hell is the point. More precisely, what the hell is the point when you’re just some dude sitting at a computer in a den in a town in a state who actually doesn’t find this too depressing and yet can’t stop feeling like it is, in fact, depressing but in some inexplicable way that has to do with some mini-version of existential angst that’s just a byproduct of teen angst that hasn’t gone away because we are all so privileged, oh boo hoo.
Holy shit, let’s start over. Or somewhere else.
To be invincible is to be dead.
I think it’s pretty clear I have a writing ‘style,’ although depending on the genre it’s not exactly the same. My inability to feel comfortable with said style, however, is the crux of the problem. I stare at my poems and then I look at the poems that are being published or that are heralded and say to myself, ‘I don’t do that.’ I tend to write poems like I’m trying to be an additional lyricist for the Arcade Fire, just going way too big without enough care for precision or craft, like being overwhelmed is the same as being moved, because, of course, a tidal wave will move everything it encounters. When I slam out these blogs, you know what you’re going to get: a meandering array of sentences that at some point attempt to reach a destination, but spend more time tramping around the nether regions of connections than they do a single point. It’s almost like I’m daring the reader to follow me and risk getting socked with poison ivy, poison oak, and insect bites. Those are voices, should I accept that? What is a confession but a transaction of faith in and acceptance by.
And that’s what it comes down to: acceptance. G. said to me the other day that I make fun of the things I actually like and I make fun of the things I don’t like more. So, the level of my mockery tends to announce my true feelings. I have long felt out of place in my own skin, unsure of what I want–to do, to be, to accomplish. Perhaps accepting my writing the style is the exact same thing as accepting the fact that I want G. to let me buy the jacked up Ram 2500 diesel we saw for sale with 35 inch tires. I always mocked those people, saw them as some sort of backwoods neanderthals, yet, if I look back at my own life, the very first vehicle I can remember saying that I wanted, that I thought was super cool, was the Toyota truck Marty McFly gets at the end of Back to the Future. I thought the roll bars were the most awesome things ever and made the truck look like it should be driving over sand dunes. That’s what I wanted. I just told G. last night, in what was a highly embarrassing confession, that the reason I want to move to Georgia is because I used to read the same Civil War book as a kid in elementary school, over and over, and I thought the South was far more interesting, that they had these mythical ‘hero’ leaders–Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson–men and a place with mythos and a history that wasn’t actually real, it was glossed over and romanticized, it was the closest version I knew of knights and armor and chivalry and Middle-Earth. And UGA’s mascot is a bulldog, and I’ve wanted a bulldog forever. And I read books by Rick Bragg and I am more convinced that such a place is where I belong; and then the other voice in my head kicks in and tells me that I’m creating a fantasy, ignoring all that I know of such places, and I know that I’m doing that. But admitting this, admitting I want that truck, that I want nothing to do with a city, it’s all the exact same thing as writing a poem: the continuing ability to admit to myself what makes me happy, with myself, with my life, with the future. And thank you to G. for often wearing an apron while she makes dinner, feminists be damned.