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Your writing career

Write a letter to your writing– and discuss with your writing what you find.

Boy, was I ever surprised when I did this exercise. I started writing a poem to express all my feelings about writing. To my shock, I found I despised my writing. It was the deposit of all my feeling growing up in an abusive household. I wanted to bury everything and never look back, but the poetry betrayed me.

One analyst said that my poetry saved my life. I now see his point.

One sponsor, in AA, said that my poetry was my Fourth Step. I gave him a pile of the poems. He said he knew exactly who I was. But I didn’t want to be who I was, so the poetry was a betrayal.

As soon as I saw it, it dropped away. I also had the same feelings about the novels– that they are too needy, too emotional. Then I saw how it was a metaphor for my life. I grew up in a time when men were supposed to be macho– that meant guys were supposed to work on car engines, not read Emily Dickinson under a tree in the local park. We were supposed to get excited about new car models, not Keat’s “Ode on the Grecian Urn.”

I definitely was ridiculed by my father when I was sad or scared. Verboten! Anger was also considered to be a shameful loss of control. We were not supposed to have feelings; instead we were supposed to drink, use pills, numb out in front of the television set or obsess about the stock market. Rock and country music was allowed– classical music was for longhairs. Reading mysteries and military history were OK, reading the classics weren’t.

So writing poetry was considered “effete.” And novel-writing was for some other kind of person, not a person from our family.

The country wasn’t much better as a whole.  Things didn’t start changing until the late 1960’s.

Since I did this exercise I wrote three poems and read two of them aloud. That’s a huge shift. Try this one. Let me know how it goes.

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