This Turbulent Riot

"But his heart was in a constant, turbulant riot."- F. Scott Fitzgerald


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What I Learned From Writing a Poem a Day for a Month

I’ve never been one to walk up to someone and tell them I write poetry. Or even freely offer up something I’ve written. I’ve always believed that poetry comes from inspiration and inspiration can’t be forced, which sometimes lead to poems every day, once a week, once a month. After dropping out of my MFA program, I became worried that I wouldn’t write as much as I had been. That I would become stagnant. So, in order to make sure I kept writing, I challenged myself to write a poem every day during the month of December.

Some days it was extremely difficult to write and I found myself in bed almost asleep and then realizing that I hadn’t written. Some days I had inspiration. I had a reason to write. With all things like this, some of the poems turned out horribly and some of them turned out pretty well and I can make a good poem out of them. But, what I learned was that the quality nor the quantity actually mattered. What did matter was the journey through my written words.

After several days reflecting on the past month and reading my poems, here is what I learned:

Accountability really is important. I’m not gonna get all mushy and tell you that I couldn’t have done this without a partner. Did having someone doing this with me make it easier? Yes. I can’t reiterate that enough. But, it was more than that. When you have someone going through something with you, keeping you on track, experience similar things, then you are going to grow closer. But, you’ll probably argue some too. At times, you may want to separate yourself from that person. Put distance between you. And when you are exchanging something personal like poems, emotions get involved. Sometimes messy. Sometimes sentimental. But in the end, the experience is so much more rewarding when you go through it with someone.

Sometimes you just gotta push through the slush. If you are doing a challenge like I did, then you are probably going to have several days in a row where what you are creating is horrible. You’ll become disenchanted with it. I know that a few times during all of this, I just wanted to stop. To give up. I would convince myself that I couldn’t actually write. I’ve written bad poems before (lots, actually), but when it’s two, three, four, or five days in a row of nothing good it becomes heavy. It’s incredibly important to push through that. Not only to finish, but to find something good. Because when you make the effort to focus and produce/create/make something good, it makes all the bad worth it.

Writer’s block isn’t real. I’ve heard professors and writers both say that writers block isn’t real. But when you are a student sitting at your desk trying to write a poem that won’t make you look like an idiot in your workshop class, that block seems pretty real. However, when there is pressure to write a poem everyday, the block isn’t as real. Or rather it becomes moveable. Sure, there were days I went to write and had no clue what I was going to write about, but I pushed through it. I (metaphorically) picked up the block, put it aside, and wrote.

Inspiration really is everywhere. In forcing myself to push past my writer’s block, I began to find inspiration for poems in everything and everywhere. I wrote about the stars, the night sky, my day, my fears, my hopes, my struggles, and my past. I allowed myself to see the world around me differently because everything had the potential to be something important. Everything had the potential to be a trigger. A trigger to something that I didn’t know until I started writing. And I can still see the world that way. I’m thankful for this.

In the end, something will be there. Whether you sprint to the end or barely cross the finish line, isn’t the point to finish? I struggled through part of my challenge, but I made it and I have over 30 poems (I wrote more than one on some days). I can’t use them all, but I can pull lines out of some of them and try to make them something good. And I learned several things. I did something, and that’s what matters for me.

Would I do this again? I’m not sure. Maybe in a few months when I’ve recovered. But, I would recommend it to any poet, writer, or anyone who just wants a challenge. Maybe you don’t want to write poetry or even care about it. But, find something to challenge your mind. Spirit. Emotions. And life with. Find something to care about, to grow, and accomplish. Life will become renewed when you do this.


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On Anger

In the past year, I would have told you that the word “hate” was one of my favorite words. I’m sure a day didn’t go by in which I didn’t say it. “I hate this client.” “I hate this project.” “I hate this place.” “I hate this food.” It was a word that slipped off of my tongue and onto the floor until it no longer held any real meaning.

It wasn’t until recently I realized what the root of all of this was. It was just this tiny thing that I was covering up day after day after day until I didn’t recognize it anymore. Until it was so covered and so embedded into who I was that I didn’t realize something was wrong. You see, one day turns into two, which turns into a week, a month, and eventually a year.

I’m not entirely sure when it happened. What made me feel this way. But, at some point I became angry. I can’t pin point one thing. I’m not blaming anything or anyone. Maybe myself. You see, it just takes one day of anger to grow into an entire year and eventually, you don’t even realize that you are angry anymore. I thought for a while I wasn’t. Thought that everything was good. But, saying you are happy. Saying you are great and being either of those things (happy and great) are two very different things.

Maybe part of why I needed to move 2,000 miles away was so I could recognize this in myself and do something about it. But, for the first time in a long time, I’m extremely happy. I’m excited about life and the future and the potential that surrounds both of those things. Yes, I’m excited about potential.

I guess my point is this: if we hold onto things, if we allow things like anger to grow in us, then life is lost. It’s easy to find yourself passing through, making excuses, and telling yourself that you’re fine. It’s another thing to recognize it and do something about it. To make a conscious effort to be happy. To take the steps and actions needed to change your life in a positive way. And maybe then, we can all change the world or at least the one around us.


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On Disappointment

Sometimes I write things out prematurely. I say something and then in quite contemplation, I realize that it all came out wrong. That what I was trying to say didn’t actually come across. What I was trying to say was stuck in the back of my throat and nowhere on the physical page (or, in this case, computer screen).

In a fit of my own disappointment I wrote out a blog post that most likely did not make any sense. To be honest, it didn’t make much sense to me, and so, I’m starting over…No. I’m moving on. I’m looking past that failed attempt to write something with meaning. To write something that pulled me out of my own feelings of disappointment.

What I was trying to say in that previous post was lost in the confusion of this idea of “after disappointment.” You see, in my head, I was trying to rush the feeling of disappointment. I was trying to separate myself as quickly as possible from this feeling of inadequacy. But even after writing the post, publishing the post, and walking away from it, that feeling didn’t disappear. It was still lingering in the bottom of my gut.

And in the twenty minutes since I wrote that post, I’ve come to the realization and the acceptance that this feeling isn’t going to go away because I want it to. Because I wished it or willed it to. No, this feeling will go away when I realize what the “after disappointment actually is.” While that phrase may not make sense to you, it is an idea that I’m currently clinging to. An idea that is only full of hope.

Hope that after this feeling has settled. After my stomach stops churning, I’ll realize that this isn’t actually disappointment. It is merely a misstep. A path that I thought I would go down, but in fact I’m not meant to even see. This disappointment is temporary, but the after disappointment may in fact be bigger than what I can imagine. The after disappointment may in fact be what was supposed to be all along. And in that notion–in that idea–I have solace.


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On Starting

It’s currently 9:33 pm on a Wednesday night. For many out there it may not feel any different from last Wednesday. And next Wednesday may not feel any different from this current one. But, for me I’m standing on the edge of something. Standing on a razor-thin enough that I’m balancing on the arches of my feet. I know the risks. I know that I may end up cut up a little bit, but I can’t help while sitting here, sipping on tea, and listening to some James Taylor that those little cuts may be a good thing. That they may lead to something better. Something bigger.

I’ve never really pretended to know what bigger is. What better is. My life has never felt like it had a whole lot of direction. Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen to go back to school. Maybe that’s what I’ve been searching for during these last few years. But, right now, starting seems like one of the most terrifying things in the world. I know that 5:30 pm tomorrow is going to roll around no matter what. No matter how nervous I may get. No matter how much I may want to turn around and run away. I may find that I’m not cut out for this. I may find that I’m not enough, but I’ll never find any of it if I don’t start.

If I don’t attempt this, then I will never know what I’m made of. Never know what I’m capable of.

If I don’t start this, then I’ll never know that this potential that I’ve been storing up for years means anything.

I’m trying not to tie my worth to this, but it’s also what I’ve been working for during the last few years. Maybe I won’t find anything. Maybe we never really find much at all. But, I have found this: without ever starting–without ever attempting anything–we really won’t know our selves. Won’t know the world. Won’t know what the potential we can see even means. Or what we are capable of within the world. 

And quite frankly, I’m not willing to live with that. I want to know. I want to search and discover. I want to start.

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