Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Writing A Wrong.... Or, Speak, Poet.

I haven't been writing lately.  Obviously I've been lagging with this blog but I haven't been writing much of anything (except for some pretty clever Tweets and Facebook updates).  Poems are half-written lines in notebooks, characters are in limbo, waiting to find out their fate and I have a ideas for short stories but that's all they are: ideas.

This isn't the first time I've stopped writing - it happens from time to time.  I eventually get a flood of inspiration and I write to my heart's content.  The problem is that this dry spell has lasted longer than others.  Months, in fact.  The last poem I wrote was the customary heart-break poem that I wrote after F. and I broke up, and that was back in May.  I miss writing but I also feel like I'm slacking off and neglecting something I truly love.

I've loved poetry ever since I wrote my first poem when I was ten years old.  A huge part of my identity is connected to being a poet.  Toxic relationships, hurtful friendships, dysfunctional family dynamics and bad jobs affect me but have never gotten the best of me because I always have the option of writing about the trauma.  I write about politics and history that anger me.  I write about sadness and joy and desire.  Poetry has saved my life over and over again.

My left arm (Photo by M.T.) 

It's bad enough that I haven't written anything new but it's even worse because not having anything new written means nothing new to share, and I love performing poetry just as much as I love writing it.

I attended Catholic school from kindergarten until the third grade.  When I was in kindergarten, I was picked to read the story of the birth of Jesus for our Christmas play.  My mom dressed me in a pink lacy dress (I hated it) and I wore my hair down instead of my usual two braids.  I remember having a cold and my voice was a little hoarse, but I was well enough to go on stage.  The Christmas play was held in the evening in the gymnasium of the school.  I clearly remember filing onto the stage with my class and then walking up to the mic by myself.  I remember the stage lights and realizing I couldn't see anybody, but being very aware that they could see me. I was nervous until the moment that I opened my mouth, then the words came out and I delivered each line of the short passage.  It was the first time I was on stage, and I loved it.

I wouldn't be on the microphone again until I was 15, when I performed my own poetry for the first time.  There was an incredible rush I felt and I fell in love with performance poetry.  I began writing a lot and when I was 17, a friend began mentoring me on performance and even gave up some of his time so I could read at a pretty big event.   After that, I was hooked.  I began to evolve as a writer and performer, but two bad relationships got in the way of my process.   Once I was free from those relationships, I felt liberated and made my mind up that no one would ever get in the way of my passion ever again.

So why am I getting in my own way? 

I could say that I'm uninspired or out of touch with the topics I want to write about, but the truth is: I'm intimidated.  I am completely afraid that my writing is irrelevant and tired.  I feel like I've lost my bite.  I've had a rough summer laden with a lot of self-doubt and letting too many voices get in my ear.  Some of those voices have come from outside people, most of them are my own.  I stopped believing in myself and my writing.  I stopped finding solace in words.

My dear friend M. is helping me edit work that will eventually be a book.  When I work on the edits (which is about the only work I've done this summer) I feel like I'm growing and stretching as a writer and that is what I have to remember:  I'm not irrelevant or a "bad" writer; I'm in transition and the worst thing I can do is to NOT write.  Even if I'm writing ideas or half poems or character sketches, I need to write.  I need to practice.  I need to quiet the voices and just write.

One of my first mentors, Roberto Rodriguez, once told me that writing is a prayer.  When  my prayer is finished, my piece will be finished.  I have to remember that writing is a journey.  Whether or not a piece is ready to be shared isn't important; putting ink to paper is my priority, and there are many blank pages that have been waiting and are ready for me.

It's time to write.

Next time: I Survived My Jesus Year 

I host a monthly poetry night called Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido, and there is a wonderful poetry scene in Albuquerque.  Instead of being afraid that I'm irrelevant, I need to embrace the poetic energy that surrounds me.  Every person who attends Speak, Poet reminds me that poetry is important and the range of voices that are heard inspire me beyond the words that are spoken.  

1 comment:

  1. Andrea, thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts. I've had many of the same and got away from writing when I moved and focused on making a new home (not a bad thing). It's amazing the self doubts we harbor, many that would disappear if, as you said we would fully engage with our passions and others who share them. So many of my friends have told me how much they love your poetry - that and all the invites to share your words tell me that your poetry VERY relatable and relevant (and I didn't need to be convinced!). When we commit to inward and outward expansion our writing will expand. I've never been good at committing to writing each day, regardless of what it is but I've been telling myself that I need to just do it. Hearing you voice the same determination helps me. Gracias, hermana!