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  • April 6th, 2011 | 5:05 PM
Poem a Day #6

For the month of March I gave myself permission to not write and to try and learn how to play (mostly with art.) My hope was that I could find a way to reconnect with my lost writer self. Now that the month of play is over I am trying to distill what I have learned on my journey in my poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month.

I know many people say, and they are right to do so, that the joy is in the process of writing, not in the sale. But truth be told, once you've made a sale or two or three, it's hard to focus on process instead of product. At least for me.

Before I'd ever heard of query letters or a synopsis
or even dared imagine the possibility
of signing with a New York agent,
I used to sit on the stoop of cement in my garage
and write exactly the kind of stories
I liked to read.

I didn't have a market guide
or a critique group
and SCBWI was just a bunch of
mixed up letters from the alphabet.

Before I ever sold a single book
I didn't wonder how many copies it would sell
or when I would earn back my advance
or whether the reviewers would be kind
if they decided to review it at all.

The Internet was still a dream
to be unfurled
so there were no worries about
blogs or websites or social media status updates.

I wrote because it made me happy
to imagine the child I used to be
in the stories I told myself.
I wrote because figuring out what happened next
was more fun than a crossword puzzle
or learning how to knit.
and I wrote because when I didn't write,
I was (according to my kids) grumpy
until I once again picked up a pad and pen.

I don't want to go back in time
or undo what I've done over the years
but I want to find a way to remember what it felt like
to sit on that cement stoop scribbling on that green steno pad
plotting stories for no one but myself.

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 11 comments — Leave comment )
April 7th, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
Oh yes, oh yes.
April 7th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Glad it resonated for you.
April 7th, 2011 05:15 am (UTC)
Love this, especially the last three lines.
April 7th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Wish it were an easy thing to do.
April 7th, 2011 10:38 am (UTC)
Sigh. I have a similar nostalgia for teaching before Standards, Proficiencies and Achievement Tests...
April 7th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Oh I bet you do!
April 7th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
I love this -- meaning and form!
April 7th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jeannine. Form? I have form? I so confused and frustrated and blocked in ways when it comes to thinking about form. No matter how much I read and try to study, doing this on my own just doesn't seem to click. But thank you.
April 7th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
I cannot express how much your poem, and your post, meant to me today. I'm beginning a new revision of a middle-grade novel, one that will require a third of the story to be changed, and I've been reminded today, over and over, that I need to remember the heart of why I wanted to write this story, and how I wanted it to "feel" when it's done. And I want it to feel like some of the best stories I read when I was growing up--the Anastasias and the Margarets and so many more. Your poem helped take me back to that place when stories first became sacred. Thank you for that.
April 8th, 2011 04:59 am (UTC)
Oh Jeni, thank yo. I can't tell you how much your words mean to me at a time when I am not sure if I am supposed to be writing anymore. Thank you.

Changing a third of the story is huge but you can do it...the same way you would eat an elephant...one bite at a time. Good luck!
(Deleted comment)
April 8th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
Yep. :)
( 11 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
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