Thursday, September 23, 2004

Daily Shrug: On Writing

I wrote three poems last night. Back when I actually called myself a writer, three poems was a decent day's effort. However, after I finished and reread each poem, I immediately tore them up, because they were total crap.

This isn't Dave being self-defeating; this is Dave being a writer. And a good writer knows when the work he's producing is utter crap. Those poems were.

I am trying to get back on the horse. I have ideas, I run dialogue in my head, but when I pick up the pen or sit at the keys, I revert to Davy-the-Retard-mode: "I like cake/Cake is great/On a plate."

Part of this process is comparing my work to that of my betters. Which, despite what your touchy-feely-encouraging English teachers may have told you, is a good idea. (Manders, I know you didn't have a t-f-e-E-t, so you are exempt from the previous.) The only way to become a good writer is to read good writers, and learn why they are good. (For the record, Dan Brown and Tim Lahaye are NOT good writers.)

I've been reading and rereading Eliot lately. (For the record, T. S. Eliot is a damn good writer.) And as I was looking over the steaming piles of crap I tried to call poetry last night, I was really comparing them to Eliot.

Anyone who compares their work to Eliot is likely to find their work lacking.

And it pissed me off. I wasn't mad at Eliot, I was mad at myself. I used to be pretty good at poetry. But I keep losing my balance, after jumping back on the bike.

Oddly enough, this frustration resulted in a piece that I'm not so frustrated with:

Tom puts me to shame with his
Life measured out in coffee spoons
And Tarot readings full of dire signs
And his Ash Wednesday prayers.
Tom makes me feel clumsy and
Brain-weak and young.
But at the same time
Tom inspires me to steal fire
From the holy mountain,
To sail out into silent seas
In search of mermaids singing
Each to each.

This is why Tom is my favorite--
He reveals how far I have to go, and yet
Still reminds me I have the chance
To chase down inspiration and
Wrestle it until dawn, refusing
To relent until I am blessed.

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