I’m stuck tonight. Many potential articles are on my list of titles but none of them will come to me, and I think it’s because I am “overdue” to write a poem: like a woman in week 41 of pregnancy, I’m uncomfortable and irritated with my condition. As I wrote in Poet Mode, my bad poetry fills a slightly different space in my soul, and it’s become very important to my recovery and my ability to stay connected to myself.
There’s been very little chance to get away alone this week. I can carry off prose by putting on earphones and ignoring what’s around me for a while, but poet mode requires a different space. A cafe is all right as long as nobody there knows me; so is a library, but I can’t seem to engage poet mode properly when my family is around. I’ve also found my high pain level distracting.
If I even had a half-formed poem in my head, it wouldn’t be so bad…that’s a different kind of frustration. But I don’t; I just know I need one. I find myself brainstorming about potential subjects for poetry, scanning the “universal” topics to see if I get a flash of response I can narrow down:
…love hate indifference despair depression apathy wrath
breaking up breaking down dying
resurrecting dying again failure
battles ambushes glorious last stands
beauty power transformation
sex good sex bad sex weird sex no sex
growing up getting old time timelessness
confusion frustration truth gods demons journeys memories…
it’s all real but nothing jumps out and says “Me! Me! I’m the general theme of your next poem!”
Crap. That technique has worked for me before when I truly had a blank canvas, and this means that there really is a specific poem stuck in there, a specific image or feeling that is waiting. I can sense it now. What does it want?
Something in my psyche is really digging in its heels…until this damn poem, whatever it’s about, comes out I apparently won’t be writing anything else, prose or poetry. How do “real” poets deal with this issue? Is it just a matter of writing frequently, or always having fragments of multiple poems around so that “poem pending” becomes the natural state of things?
In general, I don’t like to write about not being able to write…I feel as if it’s been done before, often. But I suppose there’s a reason it’s been done a lot: it’s a central part of the creative experience, which is a central part of the human experience. So who am I to be so arrogant? Am I so special that everything I share about is supposed to be somehow unique?
Integrative recovery is about growing in multiple directions…not upward, but outward like the arms of a starfish. Reaching into human realms we’ve been cut off from for so long, or never had the chance to experience at all. Human realms, so I need to get over myself. My writer’s block is just as relevant to my message about life in recovery as anything else is, because it’s my truth at the moment.
By the way…I know what the poem is about now. It was my ego, my perfectionism, that was standing in the way of realizing it. The poem’s an old idea I have had on hold for years, because it is very special to me and I don’t think I can do justice to it. Now I see that it is time to set aside that insecurity, put on my black turtleneck and beret, and get to work.