On the first day of this month I began the ”poem a day” experiment. After all, it is March, cold, slushy, and dreary. I needed a pick me up, an attitude adjustment per se. So I set out to write one poem per day for the entire month, thirty-one days total. I am now halfway through this experiment.
Days one and two, the challenge is on my mind...so I write.
Day four, I forget until 8 pm while I am watching tv. I composed a haiku about the cat with her tail in my face, quickly onto the only paper I had near me, my organizer. The poem sucked, but it took me out of my tv-induced stupor. Maybe it accessed a different part of my brain, not sure. But the process of sitting down, opening my notebook and picking up a pen is therapeutic for me. The brain has to concentrate on the process and in effect it forgets the current worry or anxiety plaguing it. The thoughts turn from the late student loan payment to writing. Perhaps this is a form of positive reinforcement. I am thinking of my dog now, distracting her with a piece of cheese, long enough to walk by the neighbor’s hairy beast. That is what I do with my brain when I write, here cerebral cortex, look, yummy words, now forget that pesky Sallie Mae.
Last week I went to a reading of young women high school students' work. Before reading, each student’s respective teacher would introduce and let the audience known why each girl enjoyed writing. “Creating something beautiful out of nothing,” was one response, “entering another world,” another. So the question arose: Why do I write? Maybe I write to escape that part of my brain consumed with fear and worry. When I am engrossed in writing a short story I do not worry about the bills or how I am going to get all of the house clean before the guests arrive. I connect with something that is not ego (most of the time.) Some folks have said that ego is edging god out. Maybe when I write I am connecting to god. Writing for me is part of a spiritual practice.
Day 8, I have nothing to write about. I am covering a math class and see a poster on the wall. I write a horrid little poem, entitled “Polygnomials.” Really it is about polynomials, but I am still clueless. I felt as if I was reaching for words that didn’t feel like coming out to play. But I fulfilled the goal, it was after all a poem, just not a very good one.
Day 15, I take a poetry workshop and am re-energized. I want to write today, I guess that was all I was asking for at the beginning of the month. I want to go through the first 16 poems and scratch out all of the crap poems (as if I am any judge.) But the crap poems serve a purpose, they waved the cheese in front of my nose, they whispered to me, calling me out from the closet, the easy land-into-bed-and-watch-mindless-tv-trap. So tomorrow will be the 17th day, it takes 28 days to change a habit. Can I slip into a habit of daily writing? My soul would benefit.