I tend to think of myself as an exclusively short story writer. I’ve dabbled in screenplays and obviously write the occasional blog, but in terms of my creative writing endeavours I always write short stories.
The other day a new idea popped into my head. I began to think about the ocean, and all the things that are lost there. Word and images began to form in my head, a solid structure surrounding my idea. I let the thoughts develop, exploring the visual setting and emotions that I associated with the idea, then I sat down and began to plot out my story. I drafted this concept numerous times, but something about the narratives I was constructing didn’t feeling quite right. It wasn’t until I verbalised the idea to my boyfriend that I realised what the problem was; this idea I had was not suited to the short story form.
Generally, when I have a realisation such as this about a piece I’m working on I’ll shelve it and work on something else until I can figure out how to make my idea conform to the structure. Often, the idea will completely reform and slip right into the narrative I desire. Other times, this is impossible and the idea itself has to be completely scrapped. But there was something different about this idea, and I knew that if I tried to force into a short story it wouldn’t have the impact I was searching for and the idea would be wasted. So, I did something I’ve never really done before, I turned it into a poem.
I can’t say I’ve ever really had much time for writing poetry- not because I don’t appreciate poetry itself, but because I feel like poetry is one of the purest forms of writing, there’s no room for waffley language or long paragraphs of description. Everything is laid out in a way that is both complex and simplistic, a skill which I don’t believe I’ve ever possessed. Up until now I’ve always thought my poetry had an air of pretention. It always feels as if I corrupted my original idea by trying so hard to write ‘proper’ poetry.
So, when I sat down to write this poem, I did something different. I didn’t force it. It sat over my notebook, pen in hand, and let the images I had created surrounding this idea flow until I could completely picture the scene and the emotion I wanted to capture, and then I wrote. Granted, this poem isn’t fantastic, it still has a lot of work to go and I doubt it will ever be read by anyone other than myself. But for the first time I had constructed a piece of poetry that I appreciated, something that I can feel proud of, something which has sparked an interest in me to pursue more poetry, to extend my writing beyond the realm of what I know I can do and challenge myself with a new form.
I have spent many years being reluctant to the idea of even attempting to write poetry, mainly due to a fear that it just won’t be good enough. Now that I look back, I see how foolish that was. I want my writing to be a challenge, I don’t want to write the same stories over and over again and never experiment with anything other than what I know. As Theodore Roosevelt rightly said; “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”
Read the finished poem here.