chapter 16 blog
Well... the short answer is no. I should definitely not write any more poetry than I absolutely have to.
For those of you who are interested however, here's the long version:
Since I started participating in The Next Great Horror Writer's Contest, just about everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I recorded my interview doped up on cold medication to fight a bug that was going around the south. I wrote the first challenge while trying to move across country. I did the next two challenges after that doped up on cold medication trying to fight a different cold bug that was going around the north. I've had personal drama and work drama and technical difficulties - and so far 2017 is just proving to not be my year.
A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about how I was taking a step back from submissions to focus on this contest because I feel like I haven't been giving it my all. I felt pumped up and ready, and a day or two after the challenge came in, I got a stomach virus. Some medical drama, bed rest, and nearly two weeks of eating nothing but soup later - I'm mostly back on my feet, but I have learned something really important about myself.
I'm not a poet.
I didn't think this challenge was going to be easy by any means. Poems aren't my medium and though I consider horror/romance to be one of my favorite genres, it's something I've never in my life written, or even attempted to write. Still, being on bed rest I had plenty of time to do my research. I watched some of the most romantic films of all time, read some of the best horror poets in history, and I was more confident in my ability to write one short poem in the genre than I should have been. It's really, really hard to do.
As a kid I loved poetry. I loved it a lot and I wrote it a lot. One of the first hints that my parents had that I was going to be a writer was actually because I got to read a poem I had written on the local news after it won an award at a young author's conference. This was an interest of mine that briefly resurfaced in high school - I was in a punk band that I had the "pleasure" of being lyricist for. I don't know why I thought winning a children's poetry contest fifteen years ago or writing the sort of lyrics acceptable in a punk band desperate enough to let me play guitar qualified me in any way to write poetry now, but it doesn't.
This has been an exercise in perseverance for me. I've spent more time working on this entry than any of the other entries thus far, and I think it's safe to say that it's the worst one I've submitted (maybe second worst... the second one I did on the cold medication really doesn't make a lot of sense reading it back, sober.) I have literally dozens of pages of bits and pieces of different poems that I tried out that were amazingly worse than what I ended up with. I have dragged up poems from when I was in high school and tried to rework story concepts I've had into some sort of passable poetic...something.
Although the poetry experiment failed miserably for me, I did learn a lot about what sort of stuff I want to do, and what sort of genres I like working in. This contest, even when it's frustrating and discouraging like with this challenge, is teaching me a lot about myself and my goals.
For instance - although horror/romance is something that I think is beautiful beyond comparison when done well, it's also nothing that I feel like I need to focus on at this point in my life. I think the best romance stories are stories that set out to be something else entirely, so I think if I ever were to write something that is genuinely moving on a romantic level, I probably wouldn't realize that until after it was over. Setting out to write a horror romance masterpiece would be fruitless for me, even though it would be cool.
What I really want to do is write splatterpunk and political horror. <sarcasm> Shocking, right? </sarcasm>
The political horror I didn't necessarily discover through the poetry challenge, I just discovered it at the same time. A few months ago I was very politely removed from a certain website for a controversial piece I wrote for a horror fiction thread. I found a controversial political horror anthology to submit it to and just a couple days ago I got a nice shiny rejection letter for the piece because it was too pessimistic. I didn't expect to get in, but I also didn't expect to be so inspired by being turned down. If I can write political horror too controversial for the internet and too pessimistic for fans of controversial horror - maybe that's exactly what I should be doing with my life. (And for the record, the piece really isn't that controversial or that depressing.)
The splatterpunk thing however, really has been inspired by the poetry challenge. Although I did not like writing in any of the poetic forms that I tried, and I was underwhelmed by the freeform "poem" that I wrote (that was basically just a short letter) and I didn't like having to play up the romance aspect of the challenge, I liked the language quite a bit and would really like to apply that sort of beautiful verbosity to, well, something that makes people cringe. That has always been something that I'd like to do in the abstract, but now I feel like it's something that I'd like to stop thinking about and start actually doing.
Of course, this contest is still going to be my top priority. I'm afraid to say that I'll try harder to do better (every time I say that I seem to get sick and or my computer crashes) but I still feel very honored to be participating in this, and it deserves all the attention that I have to give it. On the side though, I think I'm about ready to start stepping up the gore quite a bit - at least for a little while.
So that's a fun journey that we all have to look forward to.
Thank you guys for reading and for your interest in my work. I do appreciate it, and hopefully you'll be hearing more from me soon.