change · courage · poetry · vulnerability

We have Lift-Off

So, on Wednesday, I called my girl friend from school, and
my first words on her voicemail were, “I need help.” She called me back immediately.
I asked her if I could just come over to work on my thesis
in her presence, just to have another human around as I was attempting
to compile and sort and order my poems into a cohesive whole.
I used to do this as a kid, have a parent just sit nearby –
I didn’t need their input or help, just needed a person there to help me feel
calm enough and supported enough to do the work. She said sure.
So I went over with snacks, like a good Jew, and actually,
she did begin to read it. Some are poems she’d seen before, some are
new. She really liked them. Moreover, one of my concerns is that because my
thesis is basically about me and my story, was it too “myopic,” too personal to
reach anyone else besides me? She said no – she said, in fact, reading my own
stuff helped her to think about her own – she said it was important, and that
she liked how it was written.
She had some good insights and points about how to make it a
cohesive whole, and although my innards scream, “REALLY?!?! YOU LIKE
IT???,” she did.
Yesterday, I went to a coffee shop with everything I’ve got
and began to edit some of them, and to look at the few edits my friend made. It
was interesting. She’d suggested that I consider, as I’m editing and working on
this, to remember that this isn’t “my” story, this is a work I’m giving to
others. That perhaps that could help to take some of the emotional charge and
swept-awayness out of it. Because it’s the same as most “selfish/self-less”
work – I get the benefits of sharing this and someone else gets the benefit
from hearing it.
I tried to keep some of that in mind yesterday. But mostly
what I was struck by was, indeed, how much my writing has changed over the last year. It was a year ago around
this time that my professor “accused” (she says still slightly burned) my
writing of being melodramatic and cliché.
So, I wrote in reaction to that comment, and began to write
in the most “non-emotional,” facts only way that I could.
Turns out – it’s good. My friend asked me this week if I
knew that my strength lay in minimalism – I said no, I had no idea! I had no
idea this writing, this style would come out of me or this master’s program.
But it has. And I like it. She said, she likes that it’s snarky. And indeed it
is. I like that that comes across. It’s quite tongue-in-cheek. Very “lay this out in front of you without any affect,” because the affect is
in how you are absorbing it, what it arises in you – When someone tells you something horrific in a
flat tone, you think serial killer. Well, it’s sort of something like that. The
non-emotionalism is allowing me to tell the story.
Perhaps, one day, if I choose to come back to this content,
I will flesh it out or approach it differently, but for now, this is the only
way I can let you know what happened without freaking out. And you don’t need to know how I felt. Your reaction is likely the same as mine – and that’s the
important part for this writing, or maybe any. To get the reader to feel
something.
So, as I sat, surrounded by other people, my safety blanket,
at the café yesterday and began to chop off whole parts of my earlier work, I began
to see that this body of work may actually work, and that perhaps my writing is
worth while. 

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