Honestly this isn’t bad advice for life, but I think it is even more appropriate for artists of all kinds. Never say you will never try out a different form of your art.
In 2011, I wrote a piece I called “Swing Set Sonnet”. I loved the title then and still do now. I will freely admit I’m addicted to alliteration. It happens without me even thinking about it. (I even promise my admission was not alliterated on purpose!) But I forced the image I had to work within the constraints of a sonnet – something it firmly did not want to do – all because I loved my title. This was an awful idea. Instead of letting my poem find the form it needed, I bullied it into being something that could never work.
Ever since then I have wanted to rewrite “Swing Set Sonnet” into what it should have been all along. The problem was that for a long time I was too close to the hot mess it already was. I didn’t have the distance needed to approach it with a clear mind.
I finally managed a bit of rough freewriting last summer that I knew was beginning to take me in the right direction. Last summer I picked it up several times, only to put it back down again. It wasn’t until I was on retreat last fall, sitting on a swing set by our cabin on a sunny morning, watching our squirrels toss hickory nuts at the patio roof, that the images came.
It happened in a rush. Memory fused with emotion and fragmented thoughts came so quickly I was afraid I was losing them simply by noticing the next thought at all. But I focused and listened and worked all afternoon until suddenly… it was done.
Last May, I mentioned that prose poetry was not my style for reading or writing. No matter how beautiful or lyrical the text, a paragraph of prose did not live up to the expectation of poetry in my mind. Most of this probably comes from being raised on traditional forms of poetry.
But in my hands I suddenly held my first prose poem. No amount of verse or structure would hold what had become of “Swing Set Sonnet”. After four years, it became what it was always meant to be.
Never say you’ll never try something new with your art, and never give up on the art that didn’t work. It may only be the seed of a stronger work of art to come.
*Image taken from Pixabay, creative commons license, user Unsplash