For the past three months, I've been doing a poetry mentorship out of UBC. Every four weeks, I submit a fresh batch of 10-ish poems to be critiqued by my incredibly talented mentor, Alessandra Naccarato.
I open her emails like I'm unwrapping a gift -- and I am. Her feedback hits that elusive mark of being both critical and encouraging. It feels good to read because it's accurate and true, even (especially?) when she's telling me I'm being melodramatic.
I write every day, and every day it's a struggle. I show up at the fresh page and realize yet again that I don't actually know what I'm doing. I don't know what a poem is, let alone how to write one. That last poem was a fluke, and the one before that.
I'm not getting any better, I tell myself. Why is it always hard? And then I read an old poem and realize...
Wow, that was pretty terrible.
But that thought doesn't hurt. Because when you go back and read something you wrote a month ago and think that it's awful, it means (drumroll, please) that you've improved.
My standards seem to be getting higher at the same rate as my writing skill is improving. Which means -- I think, at least -- that it will always be hard.
As long as we're improving, writing will always be difficult. We'll always be walking along that edge, pushing ourselves closer and closer to our truest potential. I don't think we should want writing to be easy. It's a slippery slope from easy to boring, friends.
What does get easier, though, is the faith part. I remember getting a writing assignment for a magazine once and sitting there, looking at the obtuse scientific press release I was supposed to turn into a fun and informative blurb. I remember thinking Oh my god. Am I going to be able to figure this out?
And a voice inside me answered, Of course. I always have before.
I'm not quite there yet with poetry. I'll probably be worried that every case of writer's block is the end of my poetry career for a long time to come.
But I have faith... that I'll eventually have faith.
You don't have to face the blank page alone. Join the next round of Birds of a Feather.