For many years I’ve told anyone who’ll listen that I’m a writer, and that I’m working on a book. This is true – I write for a living, and I’m writing a book. In fact, I’m writing three or four, at any given time. But I’ve never finished any of them. Not got past the first few chapters and a rough outline.
I get that far, then psych myself out, decide I’m a terrible writer who’ll never achieve anything, tell myself nobody will take me seriously anyway, and then quit.
I am so paralysed by the fear of anyone actually reading, and commenting on, what I write that I don’t get anything to a point where anyone can actually read it, in case they voice an opinion and I can’t handle it.
This isn’t very helpful, when my aim is to get a few books published before I croak, and since one never knows quite how or when one might croak, I think it’s time I grew up, stopped being such a fanny, and just bloody write already.
So, from my collection of half-started, unfinished stories, I’ve picked one to finish. I’m going to write 100,000 words, then print it out, hack it up, and edit it. That’s the goal. Maybe nobody will ever read it, maybe it will never be good enough to be published or shared, and maybe that doesn’t matter because that isn’t the point. The point is to DO THE THING.
With ‘just bloody write’ being my mantra now, I’ve got myself a subscription to “Writers’ Forum” magazine (see how this blog about not procrastinating has introduced a method of procrastination that I can pretend even to myself IS NOT PROCRASTINATION because it says writer in the title? I’m so smart…) and I saw, in one piece, a poetry workout exercise, and thought “I’ll give that a go.” then I thought “I’ll do that on my blog, because that will mean people might see it, and I can practice hearing people’s opinions, even if they say it’s shit, because that’s good practice” so here we are.
First, a poem about an article of clothing that was either appropriate or inappropriate for a particular situation.
(Hold on, be right back, I just got an email titled ‘how to stop procrastinating’ and it might be a good read…)
(It wasn’t, but I got a cup of tea and dusted the TV stand, so it was worth pausing…)
The wrong shoes.
Christmas was cancelled the year I was 12
and we smiled, said we understood.
The work had gone quiet, the money unflowed
so we promised that we wouldn’t mind
wrote a short list, and shared our love like blankets
that made the day special.
I don’t remember the other Christmas days
with presents piled high, what was inside the paper.
I remember, vividly, this holiday with one gift,
(Titanic, the video, so long it needed two)
and held my breath to freeze the moment
as we danced and made merry, that Christmas we cancelled.
I remember the tears my Mother tried to hide
When her father laid money on our table and told us to celebrate
and the day we went shopping.
I didn’t wear underwear
not understanding the plans,
singing a song with my sister as we drove.
“Going commando, we’re going commando”
I hadn’t seen the day pan out, the shops we would explore
all trying on clothes, refusing to try, because I couldn’t bear
to press my bare flesh against the unbought cloth.
“you silly girl, you’ll spoil the day!”
I hadn’t known where we would go,
but spoiled it unknowing.
Clothes stayed untried, but shoes caught my eye
Blue and silver, platform trainers
these shoes, I knew, would make me right.
Would make me someone who belonged
these shoes, these bouncy castle Spice Girl shoes
would make me someone who made sense.
I felt like the queen of the world, of my world
when I danced around the store in these life winning shoes
until my sister chose them too
“The same colour, we can be twins”
and I couldn’t explain why I needed this just for me
when she found popular so easily
and I needed this ticket to get through the door.
I took them home, tried to feel the magic once again,
but with their twins a smaller size
sitting by their side
by the door
the magic had faded,
and I felt ungrateful for that feeling.
The holiday faded back into reality,
and school announced a day I walked into with dread
my clothes all wrong, my understanding
never explaining the how or the why
knowing I was wrong.
I wore my Spice Girl trainers, talked into them again by Mum.
These magic shoes could never make up
for the reasons I didn’t fit, the never-quite-right
way I appeared, though I studied with all my might
the way the others found belonging so easily
and I felt conspicuous, too tall, too bouncy
in the blue and silver wrong decision I’d betrayed.
I turned the corner, can still smell the damp brick
the bristling plants beside the temporary classrooms
thirty years in place
waiting for their chance to retire
and I froze before the sharp eyes of my nemesis
an older girl who hated me
for simply being wrong, for not belonging, for never knowing why.
We looked each other up and down. I waited for the blow.
The slap of her words, her hair flicked as she turned and walked away
has left a deeper mark than any wound.