There have been many irons in my creative fire as of late, and while I’ve been forging ahead with them all, one defiant story has been giving me a Dickinson of a time.
It doesn’t want to behave how I want it to behave.
Don’t get me wrong. I never force my stories to be anything other than what they will be, and it has been gaily following my lead, however, rather than arriving at that glorious destination via my plan, it’s been taking the scenic route: stopping to smell the roses, skipping through meadows, hugging trees and avoiding gluten—i.e., lollygagging me until I’m blue in the face.
My story—oh for crying out loud, I may as well just come out and say it—my story wants to be a poem. A frilly, frolic-in-the-autumn-mist poem.
I didn’t set out to raise a poem and am not even sure how it happened. Was it something I wrote? Months ago, when I penned the opening line, it seemed to behave like all my other darlings—you know, like prose.
But in the middle of the second sentence, a slight lilt had developed in its step, and by the end of the first paragraph, an undeniable cadence had taken the baton right out of my hand. There was even internal rhyme! I kept writing, allowing the story to have complete freedom, but hoping for an outcome of prose.
When lispy words like “hither” and “thither” sashayed around the room spritzing patchouli oil in my face, I shrugged it off to youthful exuberance, but once “‘ere” and “air” entered the picture, that confirmed it. Those two were known homophones. My story was indeed a poem.
Unsure how to feel about this development, I let it sit for a spell, telling myself that this was just a phase.
Keep in mind that I don’t have anything against poetry. Some of my closest friends are poets, and I’ve even dabbled in the-verse-that-dare-not-speak-its-rhyme during my college years (not to mention a particularly wild weekend with a bunch of Limericks from Nantucket).
But you see, I had big plans for this story, plans that will now be more difficult as it begins its life as a poem. Some competitions won’t even recognize verse, treating it as second-class literature, while others “don’t mind” poetry, as long as you read it in the privacy of your own home.
On Tuesday, the internet was out, forcing me to work offline, so I stopped by to see how the kid was doing. It was wearing this:
I took a deep breath, gathered my composure, looked straight into its questioning eyes, and gave it the biggest hug of its life.
“Perhaps I’m not the most knowledgeable person in this field,” I said. “I don’t know much about rhyme schemes and alliterative allusions, quatrains and cinquains, but I’m here, ready to sit down and embrace the prosody that is you.”
And with that, it was as if new life were breathed into both my poem and me. We knew that whatever obstacles lay ahead, we’d face them together.
My baby still has much growing to do, but when the time comes and it feels right, I’ll take it down to get its Poetic License and send it on its artsy way to make this world a better place.