Tag Archives: swimming with sharks

Oh What a World in Which I Can Write Poems about Swimming with Sharks

Last April, I signed on to do the Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Challenge, and I blogged about it on here. For each day in April, I wrote a poem. The challenge coincides with National Poetry Month.

The writer directing the challenge, Robert Lee Brewer, posted daily prompts for us to use, or not use. Writers were then encouraged to share their poems on an open thread on the website. People could comment on the poems and make suggestions.

It sounded like a bit of a nightmare to me, or at least the part about posting your poem online that YOU WROTE THAT DAY.

I have never written a poem (or a story or a blog post or even an email), and then thought, Gee, that is amazing. It’s the work of true genius. I should publish this immediately.

I am not that confident or foolish or both. I edit. Sometimes, I enjoy editing. Sometimes, editing feels like a slow, painful death through sentence restructuring.

(I do recognize the possibility that the people who posted their poems spent all day writing and editing those poems. And in that case, I am jealous of their luxurious amount of time for poem writing.)

And yes, I edit my emails. Sometimes you get that stream of thought going, and it just flows. But oops, you forgot the You part of Thank You, so it just says Thank.

That’s weird, guys.

Or maybe if you reread that email, you’d have realized abbreviating follow-up to f/u is not a good idea. At least not if you don’t want your boss to wonder what she did to deserve a fuck you reply.

I digress.

My point is editing is important. You should edit your writing before the world sees it. The thought of putting it out on the internet largely unedited terrified me. So I didn’t.

And what have I done with those thirty gems of glittery poetry since?

The poems are sitting out there in the cloud, mostly untouched. I have been writing and editing things since then, it has just been mostly stories and papers.

So I let my thirty, shiny poems gather dust.

A month ago maybe, I realized I missed poetry. I opened my Poetry in Progress folder, and the title “Shark-Infested Water” caught my eye.

It was poem about a dream where Agnes (the character I write about often) and I were swimming with sharks. I didn’t remember the dream or the poem, to be honest. I had written just a few lines. But I liked the idea.

Swimming through shark-infested water with your main character. The brain is full of weird, amazing ideas.

I started to flesh it out a little more, changed the title, and workshopped it with my writing partner/friend Rachel. She liked it, but wasn’t crazy about the ending. As usual, she was right.

I’ve been working on it the past couple of days. It’s getting close. And after I’m done, I will submit it. Then it’s back to the Poetry in Progress folder.

I have at least twenty-nine other poems to edit. And it feels like it’s time to get back at it.

This week’s video is a live recording of “Oh What a World” by Rufus Wainwright. It is a fantastically beautiful song, and this is a great recording of it. The performance does seem to have taken place on Halloween though. Wainwright doesn’t usually wear a witch hat when he performs. Enjoy friends!

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