Forcing poetry

December 1st is the deadline for the first complete draft of my thesis, which means so much. It means all the poems need to be there (all 48-60 of them). It means there needs to be some sort of theme loosely threaded through everything. It doesn’t mean it needs to be organized or thoroughly edited (that part will come later). It needs to show up on my thesis adviser’s desk, with a potential title, and at least 48-60 raw poems.

Fear can be paralyzing. It’s crazy to think that within less than 2 months, 30 (or so) poems will have to fly out of the creative majesty of my right/left/somewhere temporal lobe and onto the page.

Before I entered this MFA program, I watched this video because it’s Aimee Bender. I love her work. And her. In no certain order. She talks about how when she started her MFA program, she started writing for 2 hours every day. She would sit at her desk and she’d work on a story or stop that story and work on a bad poem or start a new story, just as long as she was writing for those 2 whole hours. She said she does that, to this day. She writes for 2 hours every day.

I’m terrible at routines. I did fairly good at 30 minutes every morning and 30 minutes every evening of meditation until I got a serious boyfriend and him staying over made me feel weird about sitting cross-legged in the brown chair in my bedroom while he watched TV or ate a peanut butter sandwich in the living room.

Right now, I’ve been getting up earlier. I teach as well, and there’s something about that magic time before I have to get in the shower and start my day that helps. I read things, like poems from a literary journal or look up blogs by other poets (I particularly like Sandy Longhorn’s. Some days, just reading what she does to draft her work is incredibly helpful with at least making me think about my own process (or lack of one).). Right now, I’ve popped out 2 poems just from waking up earlier.

My thesis adviser suggested I go with all “dark farm” poems, pull in some Greek threads (through titles, subtle references, etc.), or go with animals (so many of my poems have weird, mythic animals in them). I don’t know where I’m headed yet, but I did start with a poem this morning about a hoarder, a woman who keeps collecting and collecting out of a longing for her husband to return through his things. It’s called “Packrat,” so there’s the animal reference, but it’s also sort of fable/myth-like since there are those Greek women like Penelope who convey their grief and persistence through some sort of strange action.

We’ll see how the rest go…

What is your writing process like? How do you keep at it with jobs and lovers and life?

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