My Sophomore year of college, I took a creative writing class which required me to write poetry. As much time as I have spent laying words on paper, I’ve never figured out how to configure meter, how to play with sound, how to build a rhyme that does anything more than follow the letter of a law. Instead, I spent half that semester simply trying to bottle feelings, because that seemed like something a poem might be.
It didn’t take long for my professor to look across the critique table and kindly, quietly wonder if I was really writing those poems for an audience. “Maybe,” she said, “This is still just for you.”
It has been one of the most useful phrases I have carried out of school. Because some of these raw things are definitely just for me.
I’ve been writing and rewriting the same paragraphs for three weeks now. Sometimes I am obviously hurt. Sometimes I’m just angry. Occasionally, I can find the space to be a little hopeful. But I was in a car accident at 1 a.m. on a Friday night, and it wasn’t my fault, and I’m trying to find the magic words which will teach me how to let it go.
But I can’t take a left turn after dark without bracing for the collision which is supposed to come just after I set my foot on the accelerator.
But I had to buy a new car when I was actually in love with the little red monster which now has a broken axle and a smashed up engine. I used to talk to that little red monster, but this new car just feels like a machine.
But I think I want it to have been at least a little my fault, so that I can find some way to promise myself that it will never happen again. And instead, I just keep pretending that street corner doesn’t exist.
And all these sharp little paragraphs are just for me.
I keep rewriting them, hoping they’ll polish into something for you, but I’m not saying much. I miss my car. I’m scared of the dark. I’m angry at someone I’ve never met, never seen. I don’t even want to say more than that.
I want to scream, and I want to do it without losing my voice, without jarring anyone else out of their day.
When I started this blog post, I imagined I would find an ending that would make this for you. I imagined I would talk to you about writing, and how there is a place populated by first drafts which doesn’t need an audience, and it’s beautiful when you realize that you have turned your private thoughts into a ready parade. I thought maybe I would tell you that this was one of those moments that assured me I had done the right thing in going to school for writing, because I have the dialogue I need to explain to myself where I am in this process, and I love the safety of that.
It turns out, this is all still raw.
I’ll post it anyway. It seems like it might be part of the magic. It seems like there might be a few phrases for you anyway.