06 January 2010

Fallow Fields, Writer's Block and Winter Blues



During this time of year in the Pacific Northwest the whole world turns gray. Rain and cloud cover become the norm. Although the days are lengthening, there is usually less sunshine to be had. January and February are grim even for the locals.

* * * *

Although T.S. Elliot said that April was the cruelest month, my vote goes for February every single time. Perhaps it is because expectations are higher. No one demands green grass in January, but near the middle of February the heavy threading itch of growth is taking root.

* * * *

I am on the verge of finishing my graduate school applications. I have half of one essay to write and revise and then I can lay down my head and weep. I put off this one essay until everything else was done. The corner I painted myself into is a tight one.

* * * *

All Americans know from the Bush era that the phrase "turning the corner" means we aren't even close to finishing--there is no end in sight. February and this essay feel like that phrase.

* * * *

Although my work is appearing in six journals in the new year and there are other submissions floating around, I haven't written any new poems in a long time. My friends who write tell me not to worry, that things have to lie fallow for awhile. I have been telling myself that I will begin to write new poems when I finish my graduate school applications, when I am finally used to my new work schedule, when I get away for a weekend to the cabin, when the sun comes back. And because I am a smart guy, I know that these promises to myself are excuses.

* * * *

Bonnie Friedman's Writing Past Dark has an excellent way of putting this fear that my ability to write poetry has vanished...

"And every day I must reach down into myself and see if the place that makes writing exists. Is it still there?...Why should this be? Why this perpetual sense of doubt and loss?"

* * * *

It's winter and I am two weeks away from finishing my graduate school applications. The sun will return eventually and robins and maybe even hope.

2 comments:

  1. Whoa, been feeling that alot too--especially re: writer's block. Being published doesn't seem validation at all if I'm not a font of creative word-stream. Also, I'm not applying to grad school--I wonder if I will or not ever, if I can handle any more school (I know I love learning, it is school that gets to me)--I worry if I'll be able to keep growing as a writer without gaining those three extra letters worth of education & workshopping. Whew. I've been wanting to say that all for a while--guess you had to go first :)

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  2. Is it wrong to say that was lovely? I completely understand.

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