What It’s Like To Write

27 Sep

Writing here is sometimes like standing in the middle of a crowded auditorium, peeling off layer after layer of clothing, asking, Do you like me yet? How about now? Or now?

It’s sitting in a confessional and whispering my secrets into the gloom, inhaling the church fug of old incense, furniture polish and a thousand rainy days and exhaling all of my sins.

It’s feeling like a grubby-faced kid writing a note to their crush, trying desperately to play it cool but ending  up with a barely articulate mess of feelings.

It’s sometimes like being pregnant and giving birth to a kitten, while all along I thought I was carrying a baby. And it’s not that I don’t like, maybe even love, the kitten, it’s just not what I set out to make in the first place.

It’s slogging through the morass of possible words, digging in the muck to find the perfect turn of phrase.

It’s realizing that nothing I write will ever be perfect, no matter how obsessively I revise and revise and then revise some more.

It’s hearing Audra say, Perfect is the enemy of good.

It’s wondering if anything I write will ever be good, or even good enough.


My friend Meredith posted this poem on Facebook and it’s so exactly right. Every word is like a knife straight through me.

My party piece:
I strike, then from the moment when the matchstick
conjures up its light, to when the brightness moves
beyond its means, and dies, I say the story
of my life

dates and places, torches I carried,
a cast of names and faces, those
who showed me love, or came close,
the changes I made, the lessons I learnt

then somehow still find time to stall and blush
before I’m bitten by the flame, and burnt.

A warning, though, to anyone nursing
an ounce of sadness, anyone alone:
don’t try this on your own; it’s dangerous,

Simon Armitage, 1993

6 Responses to “What It’s Like To Write”

  1. Audra Williams September 27, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    I love you with all of my heart.

  2. shannon September 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    I’m sitting in the middle of our community arts and culture centre, waiting for Emma to finish her class, crying.

    Yes. This is it.

    • bellejarblog September 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Yeah, that poem’s a killer. The warning should be at the beginning, and not the end.

      And I thought you might get where I was coming from when I compared blogging to stripping layers off of yourself…

      • shannon October 4, 2012 at 12:10 am #

        It wasn’t the poem at all. I’m TERRIBLE with poetry; I skipped the poem (sorry!). It’s YOUR writing that got me. The visual of removing your clothing was powerful. I’ve been feeling like an emotional wreck lately. Moreso than usual. I think it’s partly the blog. What you said about checking your inbox until something lovely comes in. And sometimes it just doesn’t.

      • bellejarblog October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        Oh, *hugs*. I’m so sorry you’ve been in a tough place lately (and that I’ve been so remiss in responding to comments).

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