A Morning Filled with Doubt

This is not a good way to begin the week, I suspect.

Last week was a major hiccup in the writing/sabbatical process. The Doodle became sick with a fever around Monday evening -- and so he was home from school until Thursday, and I didn't get much accomplished on Tuesday and Wednesday. I struggled with revisions of old poems in between playing with Legos and completing puzzles with the boy, so there was some writing done, although honestly I don't know how productive it was. My major accomplishments ended up being 1) lit-mag research -- I found some really interesting new magazines (more on them later) 2) submissions and 3) the organization and "clean up" of my computer files (I had multiple drafts of poems saved between my laptop and my zip drive, and this clutter was a source of major confusion lately).

I had about one day of good writing -- Thursday -- and, true to form (no pun intended), I spent the entire day focused on working out a stanza to one of the "myth" poems. While I was happy and satisfied (at the time) about what I'd accomplished, that was it for my creative output. On Thursday night Little Miss Talkalot became Little Miss Virus, and so Friday was shot, because she stayed home from school and I spent the whole day worrying that she was near-death because she was actually sleeping and lying on the couch in a daze, uninterested in TV or food or pestering her little brother.

Awww . . . she's so peaceful and tucked up, right? This scared me. My daughter is never this still.

So now she's better, as is the boy, and the weekend's soccer tournament is over and the house is its usual mess, replete with dirty dishes and lots of clean laundry to fold, and I'm looking at the calendar and I'm looking at the poetry I've written so far this semester, and I feel completely overwhelmed. It doesn't seem like I've accomplished enough, in the domestic or the creative areas of my life. And I haven't even checked my email yet this morning to see what gems in the professional sphere (read: syllabus project bullshit) wait for me.

Perhaps I should just take for granted that at the beginning of each month I'm going to have a freakout because I see how quickly this time is passing by.

I need to start on my play.

I need to finish my poetry manuscript.

I need to read more.

I need to submit more.

I feel like there's so much to be done and so little that has been done.

I have so little patience with my kids when I feel this way, and I hate that, too. After a week of full-time Mom Duty, I'm worn out, and admitting this makes me feel like a highly incompetent and inadequate mother.

I suspect that I wouldn't have written everything above if I'd just been able to feel good about my writing this morning. I reread my fairytale poem, the three or four pages of metered verse that I've eked out in two months (I'm so pathetically slow!), and I'm majorly dissatisfied. It feels too much like prose, not enough like poetry. So I went back to my original drafts and looked at them -- the lyric sequence -- and while there are things I like, I can see glaring problems. For instance, I like the way that I feel like I can breathe when I read the first drafts. There's a good amount of white space on the page in my lyric poems, because I'm writing in two-line stanzas -- whereas the Spenserian stanzas in the new draft make me feel claustrophobic. I suspect that if they sounded more like poetry, and less like prose, I would feel less hemmed in by the form I've chosen.

I've been writing the "myth" poems in meter, too, and for some reason I feel much less restricted when I work on those. They're coming so much more easily.

And it's not like I'm ignoring my gut instincts and intuition on this. My problem is that I don't have any gut instincts about this poem. I feel confused and ambivalent and I don't know what the answer is. I know I want to write this thing and yet I don't know how to write it. And I loathe beginning a week in this state. My only hope is that this desperate kind of feeling will lead me to obsess about the poem all day -- even if I'm folding laundry, cleaning dishes, or wiping spilled acrylic paint from the dog's coat and our dining room table (it happened last week) -- and eventually, by nightfall or by tomorrow morning at the latest, when I attempt once again to use my brief morning solitude to write, I'll settle on some kind of solution.

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