Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writerly Glee - Thoughts on Sucess & Poetry

I was sitting at my computer, on this past lazy Sunday afternoon, delaying the reality of going for a run by working on designing script frenzy posters, when I heard the 'ping' of a new email.

Being easily distracted, I checked it out. It was a new review of a story I posted a long time ago on FictionPress. The story was a class assignment to write an ending for the purposefully unfinished story The Lady or the Tiger. I had never before received such a long and overwhelmingly positive review of any of my stories.

In fact, the last review I got of this story particular story was short and to the point: 'This story sucks asshole.' I do my best to brush that low level petty insensitivity aside, but it still isn't fun to have someone degrade my work.

So when I get a review that tells me the reader liked my story, is enthusiastic about my story and thinks I'm a good writer, it makes up for everything. Okay, the review was also a rambling mess full of errors, but it's the thought that counts right?

I find it heartening to get positive feedback, because even when it doesn't mean my work was objectively good, it means someone enjoyed it. And since I write for pleasure - my own and others - I think that's the most important criteria of success in the end.

Still, I am not immune to the high of public recognition and publication...

Last night I had more writerly excitement happen when I went to the awards ceremony for a youth writing contest sponsored by my local library. I had submitted the maximum allowed - two poems and two short stories - but only one piece had truly been something I had to write lest it burst out of me. It was a poem entitled "Love at First Fight."

It starts with two lines that came to me during a run last summer when I was musing about the chances of meeting a cute and available guy my age while running.

I want to meet my future husband while I’m out running
And get into an argument with him right away

The last stanza sums it all up:

I want to meet my future husband while I’m out running
So he sees I’m an athlete, not a model
And get into an argument with him right away
Because if we can survive that kind of start
We can survive anything

I shouldn't really (and therefore won't) post the full poem here, as a condition of the contract I signed, since as a contest winner it will be published in an anthology this fall. Even though it's just a local thing, I feel proud to be recognized as a good writer, and I revel in the feeling of being published, however it happens.

Last year I had a similar outcome with this contest, with just one of my pieces winning an honourable mention. That poem was an in-your-face reclamation of the word bitch when used by boys to shame girls for not behaving as boys want. This year my successful poem was an in-your-face "anthem" (as the judge said) to being yourself and finding love anyways.

So from now on, I will focus more on emotion and less on pretty form when writing poetry, because for me at least, the most successful poems are honest, a little bit "bitchy" and most importantly, come from the heart.

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