I’m sitting in the empty Timmies area, and eating the Laughing Giraffe’s “coconut pineapple chocolate macadamia nut balls” (that’s a handful and a mouthful). It’s the second weekend I’ve chosen to sit in this spot and do some writing. I have an empty/closed “coffee shop” to myself.
I gave my work to the writer in residence and #1 asked if I was ready and I said “yes.” It was time. There was one story and five poems. I was expecting an hour of cutting and pasting and talking about what was good and what needed work. She said my work was too abstract not concrete enough too conflicting and my story although good, it was in the wrong tense and she had corrected each example of the tense. It was about 20 minutes and she said I needed to read more poetry. And she listed a bunch of poets I had never read, well I read one and I didn’t like this poet very much. Then she asked what I studied in university and I said “theatre…”
I left completely confused I had no idea how to process this. I went to the new second hand bookstore but couldn’t find my type of books amongst the grocery store books and was cornered by a lady who said my story telling last night was really good. I was so confused.
I’ve learned from getting ready to move to a new apartment that it was OK to ask for help. I wrote to S____ who was my roommate for two years and is now a theatre professor, a High School English/Drama teacher and the girls from “the house” who I studied theatre with.
The roommate was the first to write back and get me to breathe and reason it out, get me to admit that things were told to me that I could learn from. She said “Why not focus on your positive response: what did people like about your story? What are your strong points as a writer or storyteller?” The girls were next telling me she’s one person and then my teacher saying that the ego takes a beating when we put our work out there. She told me her experience and I could relate.
I looked over The Pig and the Puppy, one of the poems I submitted there was a note on the work that the ending was good. There are two lines that I wrote, one says “The freedom in her face, Began to tell stories” the other one says “For a moment the stranger, Is honored to hear the stories.” She wrote “what are these stories?” I was taken back to a conversation I just had about telling people you have a story and actually telling a story. I was telling “my readers” there were great stories but wasn’t doing the work of telling what those stories are.
I also had to look in the mirror and admit I didn’t study poetry in university I studied theatre, film, and history and short stories, which is maybe why I was successful of telling a WW2 short story to a group of people; even if there were a lot of holes to the story. I’m not a poet, I write down ideas and images, but I’m a disconnected theatre girl, who had to move home to get well. There’s not a lot of theatre here so I thought I’d make my ideas into poems.
I took the Pig and the Puppy and started to sort out what “those stories” are. There will still be a lot of ego crushing to come in the future, but I need to get crushed in my medium. I wasn't ready to do that before, I'm ready now...