Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Unpublished Works of Miss Hawkins (that's me)

Lately, my mind has been drifting toward Natasha Trethewey, my poetry teacher who recently won a Pulitzer prize, and my new friend Karma Wilson, who has a new post about writing up right now. Well, no, I am still thinking of myself of course, I have just been thinking of my own writing now that I have had such a close brush with greatness. I have been up since 4am this morning, a very bad morning to have had such an early awakening as it has turned out to be a snow day, and decided that since I could not get back to sleep I may as well drag out the box with all my old journals in it, including, my poetry and story writing journal! Wouldn't you do the same thing if you were up at 4am before a snowy dawn? No, you wouldn't. Because you would recognize, unlike me, that it would be a trip into mortification unparalleled by any prior experience with embarrassment you may have had.

The poetry I wrote in high school can only be compared to what a lovesick Dr. Seuss might write under the influence of way too much Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen Crane, and the Cure. Entirely too much dying and screaming and body parts being torn apart(mostly hearts) were arranged in such lovely iambic pentameter! George was very gracious to remind me that these were written half my lifetime ago. So I guess that makes me feel a little better. I feel much better knowing no one else has ever seen them though!

My short stories from high school, on the other hand, were not so bad. They had an element of triteness that is probably to be expected from a fifteen year old. Two of them were Christmas related, and one was some bizarre metaphor that didn't really seem to hold up in the end. I think we must have been given a topic, because it supposedly answers the question, "what is fear?" But I was actually surprised at some of the showing (vs. telling) I did in one story in a fairly clever way. I also wrote some fairly decent dialogue in that one too. And I gave my audience credit, something I still struggle with every time I write anything (as in, this that I am doing right now, I wonder whether they will get what I mean). So way to go, fifteen year old Abby! On each of the three I found from high school, my teacher wrote a note suggesting I submit them to the literary magazine. I never did, but the point is, it would appear that I only saved the best ones.

Once in college, I was forced by Ms. Trethewey's poetry class (collectively) to give up my rhyming. They said it was holding me back because I forced everything into rhyme, which I realized was so true when I saw the one I left the rhyming in. Fortunately, I had at least outgrown my" gloomy" phase by then, and found I was more predisposed to writing more pleasantly (not that that was hard to do by comparison). So I think I was basically the silly sorority girl of the class with my tra-la-la subject matter even without the Seuss-like rhyme. I wrote five for that class, one about George called "Perfecting Pink" that was not too too bad. And I wrote a really really good one about Christmas with divorced parents. That one rocked. I also found a funny one I wrote around the same time, just for fun, about (and probably during) the history class George and I took together right before we started dating, and another funny one I had done with candy hearts for Valentine's Day one year (this was just the draft; I am not storing 10 year old candy hearts in a box in my basement).

My short stories from college were all kind of okay I guess. That class really freaked me out. I took it before the poetry writing class and it was basically my first instruction in creative writing. For someone who had been writing as a hobby for years, it was strange to suddenly understand that there were rules and techniques, do's and dont's. You have to understand what I naive little person I have always been. I had a similar experience in ninth grade when after drawing for years and enjoying art so much, I took an art class. I sat between two of my dearest friends, who also happened to be the two people in our school who were the most gifted artists ever. Seriously, one of them was my friend Evie who is a professional artist and art teacher now. Anyway, they also happened to be two of the funniest people you'll ever meet. But their humor was the type that is often, well, shall we say "humor at the expense of other people?" So I was totally overwhelmed right off to realize how much I didn't know, sitting in between two amazingly gifted artists, and on top of that I had them making fun of me every step of the way. It was a lot of fun though, way more fun than "Shorter Fiction" with a bunch of people I didn't know critiquing my short stories in front of the class. I read some of my instructor's comments and some were really right on, while some I probably still wouldn't change. Not that I will go back and try to fix them. I think the hardest thing was coming up with a good story in the first place. And most of those were stories I didn't really care about telling.

I don't really write anymore (except blog posts). I really should try to flex those creative muscles soon. But for now, I am pretty sure this is a boring post. Maybe not boring (or maybe so), but not something anyone would have much to say about. It's kind of self-centered like that. But it was a story I felt like telling. I think I shall put another post up soon; buy this will have to do for now. It's something to read on a snowy day anyway.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

I was interested. And I got what you meant. I laughed a lot too. Good writing! :)

Blog Archive