Why Do I Love My Old Poetry But Hate My Old Prose?

Seriously. Every time I read an old poem I’m like “Oh hey, this is pretty good! Could probably edit this line and change this word and, oh, perfection! Lovely! PRINT THAT!” But when I look at my old prose I’m like, “I guess this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I have to put in some better development and this is really cliche. What was I thinking here? Wasn’t there a twist somewhere in this chapter? This character is a tad flat. I’ll have to revamp this dialogue… Maybe I’ll just look at this later.” Then I never look at it because who has time for that level of editing?

Wow I think I just answered my title question in the first paragraph.

Move along folks. Nothing more to see here.

I know I’ve written before about how my old work is never quite as bad as I think it is (obviously there are exceptions but for the most part that’s true) and this is similar but I hope to convince you how this is still different and maybe show you a little of how my crazy, improbable thought process works when it comes to my old work.(Perhaps I’ll learn something too.)

My poems always seem way better than expected or at least as good as I expected them to be. I took a poetry class in college and ended up with a lot of work to sift through. I remember getting praised for my weekly poems but still thinking they were mediocre. I rarely put a lot of effort into what I turned in because I usually procrastinated until the last minute yet still managed to crank out something decent. I’ll never forget the week I wrote my poem in 5 minutes and was told it was the best poem I’d done for the class. I was very clear I didn’t work on it for long. My professor overheard that (AFTER she had already graded the poems) and I got my poem back with a couple hastily scribbled edits. Pretty sure she wrote those eight seconds before handing it back just because she knew what I did. What does all this pandering to my poetry skillz have to do with anything? I’m not trying to brag but I think my poetry has always been better than my prose.

AND YET

I do not consider myself a poet. I like prose much better. The short story interests me as does the novel. Part of this is because I don’t read a lot of poetry and have little interest in reading it. So it makes sense that I write what I like to read.

Maybe I should pretend that poetry is just an easier medium so obviously I’ll enjoy the work that’s easiest to perfect. Then maybe I’ll offend all the poetry writers by saying that I find their work super easy to turn into prose. Oh, there it is. I tend to write poetry as if it were prose (except not prose poetry because ew). The poetry I’m best at? The ones that describe a space or moment as if it were a scene from a novel. Anything more abstract than that and I struggle. So I sort of just enjoy writing prose in… poetry form.

Hmm.

Well there’s an epiphany for me. It’s always what I’ve enjoyed writing for poems. I’d much rather tell a story through a poem than try to write poetry about a thought or feeling. And I think that’s reflected in what poems I think are the best.

My old prose always feels like it needs way too much work to get up to a good standard. The way I write poetry, I think, is why I can hate my prose. A friend once told me that poetry is economy of language. Which is a good way to think about it and I’ve always been a fan of saying everything you want in as few words as possible. Poetry does that. Prose can’t always accomplish that in the way I want it to. Each medium does something unique and I like both of them. Prose is my true passion and maybe that’s another reason I tend to hate my old prose. My poetry I usually wrote for fun while prose I write for fun AND to possibly publish. I want my prose to be incredible and unique and crazy good. I want my poetry to be enjoyable and interesting. Different standards.

It’s also faster to write a 200 word poem than it is to write an 8,000 word story.

And I’m lazy.

So there’s that.

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Writing New Things

This is probably going to be a short post. This weekend is my brother’s wedding so between food prep for that and traveling to get there and home, it has been (and will be!) quite hectic! But I didn’t want to leave my faithful readers hanging this week so here we are.

I’ve been writing more new things this week. Not anything I’m thinking about publishing (although it’s always possible in the future) or even showing to anyone else. They’ve been really short story bits or just a scene that came to mind. Last week I talked about how I’ve been keeping up on my small scheduling goals with writing new as well as working on something old every day and how great it’s been working for me. Something I’ve noticed  is that I’ve been blessed with more ideas. Last year I had ideas, yes, but by the end of school I wasn’t writing new things because I didn’t feel like I had time with all my other work. As a direct result, I wasn’t getting any new ideas for writing. Once I was out of school I was left in this slump where I didn’t know how to write for fun anymore. I was so focused and determined that I wasn’t letting myself be loose enough to have a good time. Because of that, I felt like my muse had left me for a 19 year old yoga instructor in Cali. I had no new ideas jumping into my brain like I was used to before senior year of college. I was struggling to come up with anything to put on the page.

These last two weeks I’ve been slowly winning my muse back with gentle coaxing and promises of grandeur. The more I make myself start new work, the more ideas I get for new work. It’s a really wonderful feeling. It’s like I’m going back to when I had to carry around notebooks and I would fill them with hundreds of ideas throughout a week.

I’m just hoping to maintain this momentum. If cared for, I think my muse will eventually move back in. That trip to Cali really cost me.

Schedules, What?

 

Part of being at home means that I’m available to my family. Whether that’s for sudden household chores or help with groceries, I’m expected to pitch in with my time. It’s not unreasonable and I don’t complain about it because as a member of the house I need to contribute. It just makes scheduling my time difficult because I can never assume I’ll have a large block of time without interruptions.
To combat this I’ve come up with a new method for getting things done and it’s working very well for me. Instead of thinking, “I’ll write for an hour!” And be interrupted halfway through; even if I only leave for a few minutes, it messes up my entire flow.  I’ve discovered that I’m working better setting smaller goals that have more variety. Instead of hours I count in chunks of 15 to 20 minutes. With those times, even if someone catches me off guard, I can say, “Give me ten minutes then I can help.” It’s never an unreasonable wait for the other person and it lets me finish my thought.
I can also set a timer, which I find really useful because it keeps me from getting distracted. I know I need to be writing or reading or whatever I’ve allotted my time to do. It’s really good for those times I don’t have my creativity flowing. Really helps me jumpstart into the right mood to be productive.
Which brings me to another reason I’m liking this type of “scheduling” (what a nice transition I wrote there. You should definitely compliment me on that). It forces me to put words on the screen. I have to put something down in that time, no excuses. Already a couple days I’ve gotten into a groove and been able to write beyond my time-frame. With the short limit I know I have to get something down and often once I start I can do a lot. It doesn’t happen every time but it’s awesome when it does. Sometimes I can’t continue it past the time I gave myself but I can be content in knowing that I’ll be able to get to it soon because of how I decided to split up my time chunks.

I have a chunk for editing my ebook, a chunk for writing something new, a chunk for writing something old, and a chunk for reading a novel. Some of these chunks are larger than the others so they end up being split up a little more but some are just a single time a day. My ebook, obviously, because I want to get it done and republished so I can try to make money on it. Writing something new to keep my brain moving forward and maintaining my skills. Writing something old to make sure I don’t forget about my past work and continue to make it better over time (or complete it even if I don’t plan on publishing it). And finally, reading a novel to keep my brain fresh and working. I wasn’t able to read a lot for fun the last couple years in school and I think it was detrimental to my writing. Making sure I spend time reading every day keeps my imagination working and gives me new ideas to work with. Indispensable for a writer.

This method won’t work for everyone. I actually know someone off the top of my head who does a lot of her work in very large chunks of time (like she’ll write or do intense research for 5 hours straight). That works for some, small chunks work for others. I will say that if you’re having a hard time getting into your writing then small time chunks are what I would recommend. It gets you moving and it doesn’t require an insane commitment from your busy day.

Distractions Are Bad

Usually what I do is write my post on Friday then edit, augment, and post on Saturday so I have plenty of time to make sure it’s the best post it can be completely procrastinate Friday and then write my post quickly so I meet my self-imposed deadline. This week is really no different.

I saw a quote on Facebook that went something like, “Being a writer is 3% talent and 97% not getting distracted by the internet.” I can attest to the truth of that statement. There’s a whole world at my fingertips that MUST be explored! Those Wikipedia articles aren’t going to read themselves!

Even with the very real motivation of needing money in order to move out of my parents’ house I still spend a good amount of time doing nothing online. Well, doing nothing really important. Then, whenever I do decide to work on anything, suddenly everyone needs me! Okay that’s probably not true but it does feel that way sometimes.

*I took a break here to eat dinner and watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier*

I don’t even remember where I was going with this. Distractions. The internet. Trying to make it in the world. You know, adulthood is about being autonomous and able to make decisions. I thought that by 22 I would be over my Youtube binge watching and pointless meandering online yet here I am. I continuously try to find balance yet am thwarted every step of the way by none other than myself. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to distractions.

Imagine all I could accomplish if I stopped goofing off and started working on what needs to be done. Probably not going to happen but can you imagine?

That was a joke.

Wow, that was a garbage joke.

Please don’t read that.

Spare yourself.

I’ll get a hang of this adulting thing one day. Writing is work but it’s seriously what I want to do with my life. At this point I guess I just need to prove that to myself and do what needs doing.

This post is a bit shorter than normal and yes, part of that is because I put it off another part is because I’m extra tired this week. I’ve been busy getting nothing done and that’s hard on the brain.