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Circus Rambles - On the creative process, kind of

May 25, 2019

Ever since getting involved in the Portland poetry scene, I've had this nagging feeling that I'm a little different from everyone else. I know this isn't a realistic way to feel, because I can't possibly know the internal creative processes of other poets. Unless they write a rambly blog post about them, I guess. But anyway.

 

I enjoy writing. I especially enjoy writing poetry. But I also can't usually sit myself down and say, "Hey, self, write a poem." Sometimes I can, but not that often. I almost entirely use poetry to process emotions about various traumas I've lived through, or depressive spells, or sudden bursts of long-repressed anger, or other baggage for the therapist. I'm good at doing that. But if I'm not doing that, I'm not very good. If I try to force something out, then it tends to come out rather badly. Most of my best work just came at me out of nowhere and I was compelled to write it down to work through whatever emotions were popping up at the time.

 

You know, I just realized that I used the term "best work" to describe some of my own stuff without even thinking about it. I feel like that's maybe progress. I can sort of tell when I have a good poem on my hands now. God that's fucking weird.

 

Uh, anyway.

 

I've seen so many talented poets at Portland Poetry Slam and Slamlandia. I've heard so many different works from them. It kind of feels like all of them have a whole giant bunch of poems to pull from. And at the moment, I really only have a few. Because on top of all this, not all poems are slam poems. I'm not sure if I can explain that very well since I haven't been slamming very long. But some just do not work as spoken word. It's complicated. My point is, my workable slam poems are rather limited at present. I'd like to write more, but forcing myself to write more is not really going well.

 

As a completely random example, a few weeks back I had a terrible week, and on the last day of that terrible week I got a Facebook message from someone I wasn't in the mood to hear from, and I was so angry and so done with that week in general that I ended up writing a really good angry poem about it. So that's the kind of stuff that gets me to write poems. Sitting myself down with an empty computer document usually produces nothing, except random notes on the giant farming sim I wish I had the programming knowledge to create.

 

It really makes me worry that if all this terrible stuff in my past hadn't happened to me, I never would have grown beyond writing shitty nature poetry like I did when I was ten. It really makes me worry that if one day I woke up and my depression, anxiety, and PTSD were all gone, I wouldn't be able to write anymore. Even though I'm dealing with my mental illnesses a lot better than I used to, and even though I'm feeling happy for the first time in a long while. It just makes me worry.

 

It also makes me wonder if being a truly good writer is simply being able to write whenever you want. It sounds so basic, and yet it feels out of my reach. I don't know if this is something you can practice. Maybe it is? I mean, surely I'm not the only person with this problem, right?

 

Like most good rambles, this doesn't have much of a point or much of an ending. I just kind of needed to work it out and I don't have a therapist anymore so a blog post has to substitute. Which is kind of the point. I write when I need to work something out and I don't necessarily write otherwise. I love writing but I can only do it when I need to process something. I'm scared that that's a problem.

 

Fuck, y'all. I don't even know.

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