Today's Draft: I Can See Clearly Now

Reader, it has been a good long stretch since I had any real writing time. By 'real' I mean more than a half-hour or so. This morning, Husband came to me and said, "Maybe we should go to the mall this morning." I just about went back to bed. I hate the mall. But he had a return to make, and we needed to look for Easter clothes for the three bears. So instead of going back to bed, I bargained: Ok, we can go to the mall this morning, but when we get home I want some writing time.

The deal was done.

And so, I made my way to my desk this afternoon. I confess, I held no great hope for drafting today. Lately I've been feeling the weight of the writing life: the uphill battle of it, the constant struggle to find little slices of writing time around the edges of my life as mother, the long haul persistence that good writing requires. I confess, I sometimes think it would be easier to be "just a mom." And yet, I know what happens if I don't write: I start disappearing around the edges. I know I don't really have a choice in the matter. I must write. So I sat down with my bad attitude and read some really good poems in the current issue of Cave Wall, then picked up my pen.

The leader of my writing group often talks about objects and how they can spark poems for us. Just everyday things: a basket, an egg, a button, a key. With those thoughts circling, and a note from a po-friend that she had tried an object poem, I soon found my focus for the day.

First I chose three objects that, for me, feel important and interesting: roof, window, key. Then I made lists of the functions of each object, aiming for 10 functions minimum. It's funny, I started out in the active voice -- "keeps the rain off," "creaks under snow" -- but quickly found that I could be more imaginative and symbolic if I worked in the infinitive: "to be made of layers, to be nailed down, to groan in the wind, to slip between them and the stars." I love little mysterious moments like this, when just changing voice unlocks new doors. Yay, words!

After I made my lists of functions for each object, I chose the object to draft with: window. I then looked back at an old poem I'd written about cranberries and noticed the poem began with how a cranberry forms, then moved the cranberry into the human realm. I decided to do the same with my window draft, so did a little research about how glass and windows are made (fascinating, by the way). That paid off, as I was able to open the poem with: To begin as sand / and salt (BTW, hooray for my primal landscape --the beach-- making it into a window poem!). Throughout the process, I tried to find good verbs and descriptors, ones that might not normally be associated with glass and windows. The poem ends with the window holding the face / of the one who stands / waiting.

The thing about this draft is that it was really fun to write. I came to my desk glum, and ended up remembering why I love writing: the energy and joy of creative play turning into something that didn't exist before. Plus, free materials. Dear Poetry, thank you for the reminder. I can, um, see clearly now.


sarah said...

so glad you found some writing time...and joy waiting at your desk, too. i've been battling with the "what's the point" question lately, regarding writing, (and half-resigning myself to be "just a mom"), and you said it perfectly with: "i start disappearing around the edges" without writing. that's it for me, too -- exactly. and that's exactly why it matters.

ps i hate the mall, too.

Molly said...

Sarah, it's always good to know we don't struggle alone. Thanks for your thoughts.

Kathleen said...

Molly, I have been reading this Cave Wall, too!

Molly said...

I'm really enjoying it, Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by!