January 16, 2014

Finding Courage as a Writer.

When all else fails, write haiku.

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because of course, when you finish something you can be judged…” ~ Erica Jong

I’ve always loved to write and somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always had a dream that someone other than my mother and a few close friends will appreciate my writing. Unfortunately, I’m a perfectionist, obsessive compulsive, who’s most imposingly, a scaredy cat!

I want to write like a genius, without all of the bumps and bruises that writers experience. I want to write the kind of essays that speak to others, in the way so many I’ve read have spoken to me. I want everything I write to be thoughtful, engaging and relatable.  And so, I haven’t written…

…except for that one time, by accident, on a fluke and without a care in the world.

It was late on a Friday night. I was unable to sleep while once again contemplating all of the things I’d like to write about, the submissions I’d like to make, and all of the reactions that would ensue.  Google and I were enjoying another hot date, as I began a searching call for submissions. And then—there it was, a call for Haiku from a major blog. I laughed.

And then I laughed some more. Despite being a literature major and enduring several lessons on Haiku in poetry classes, I was still baffled by the “clap your hands to write poetry” concept.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Five syllables. Seven syllables. Five syllables.

I wondered. Who writes Haiku? Working at an elementary school, I knew fourth graders do. I assumed the Japanese do. It is their niche in the poetry world. Old ladies perhaps? New Agers, while burning their incense and stuck in their yoga poses?

The only Haiku I’d read outside of my poetry class was on a friend’s Facebook page, and although I enjoyed some of it, a lot of it was a little too “Haiku-ish” for me. And yet there I was with HGTV playing in the background, sitting with my hot date Google on a boring Friday night, and someone wanted Haiku. What the heck! I began to clap.

Within two minutes, I’d written a Haiku. Five minutes later, I’d submitted it. Shortly thereafter, the editor responded with “I absolutely love this piece and it will go live this week.” In less than 45 minutes, I’d written, submitted and been accepted for publication and done it with minimal effort and without stress, fear or anxiety. A fluke. A farce. A joke. Someone thought my clapping was good enough to share with others. I was published.

And then, I froze.

The reality of the moment hit. I closed my computer and stepped away. I had accidentally reached a milestone…a dream I’d had for years. No, not to write Haiku…but to be published. To be exposed. I wanted to have the courage to stand naked—figuratively of course, for the world to see. There I was on a boring Friday night and I was a “Haikuist.” I wasn’t in the fourth grade, nor was I Japanese, and I wasn’t that old…yet. There was no incense burning and my yoga’ing sucked. I immediately began to feel that there was nowhere to go but down.

The poet Hugh Prather says, “If the desire to write is not accomplished by actual writing, then the desire is not to write.”  Hiding behind his words, over the years I’ve wondered if he’s right and maybe I don’t want to write. I’ve wondered if I’m a dreamer and not a doer. Yet, aren’t dreamers supposed to be filled with serenity and peacefulness? There is nothing serene or peaceful about my nagging desire to write. There is anxiety and an unfulfilled desire and need, all being controlled by fear of both failure and success.

My Haiku painted the picture well. I had hesitated to share my writing for fear that it wouldn’t be good enough. When someone said it was good enough, I panicked fearing it would never be better.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Fear is exhausting. It’s futile, providing no result. It was time to make a choice.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that
something else is more important than fear.”  ~ Ambrose Redmoon

As we enter into a New Year I’ve decided to change my wants to wills.

want will to be a dreamer who’s a doer!

want will to take chances!

want will to put myself out there!

want will to commit.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back—Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  ~ Goethe

Yes, I will commit!

And so it begins now.

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Pixoto


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