Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing poems. It didn't seem to serve any purpose anymore. There was no time and, frankly, no interest. My step dad wasn't around to read my poetry after a few shots of tequila and tell me I was a genius, which left only myself and one very nice professor from undergrad to glance over them once in a while. Gone were my jobless teenage summers, sprawling sun decks, and endless thoughts. After grad school, I hit a plateau where I didn't want to think anymore, didn't want to string words together on paper in journals or submit to publications or care. If poem could be a verb, I didn't want to poem. Poetize? Poemify? Yeah. Not gonna.
There was this one time like 8 years ago that I struck up a conversation with a lady on a bench in central park. She was wearing a long hippy dress, hadn't brushed her hair, and had a journal with a big moon on it on her lap. She was sitting there to write poems about her dreams, never to share with anyone. She told me it was for her own eyes only. She must have been in her forties, frizzy and alone, and something about it struck me as too much. I mean, good for her, but it suddenly hit me that this was a possible future me and I very urgently I realized I didn't want to be wearing hemp and writing in a moon diary when I was forty just the same as when I was fourteen. And I didn't want to be the girl giving everyone poems for Christmas and birthdays anymore. I thought, "How embarrassing is that at 19? Gross!" (I was gross. I was young. I'm less gross now. At least I think so. At least, I don't think poems are a gross present anymore. I think it's awesome.)
My dreams and poems used to mean a lot to me, but after a few years in New York City I just didn't want to care. I didn't want to be a poet with feelings sitting alone on a bench with a journal - it was very occupying being an actor with feelings, thank you very much. Very occupying being an actor with feelings doing things and trying to do more things and not being allowed to do certain things I wanted to do like get famous and reserve a table at schmancy expensive clubs in TriBeCa and jet off to Cannes. Writing things sounded just impossible. Or ridiculous. Between eight weekly shifts at a restaurant, rehearsals, auditions, and the mounting August crankiness, I lost my poetry. I just lost it.
But just this week, I think I found it again, and I think I know why.
See, I was the only child at home after my brother moved out, and with our 12 year age gap, it was more like I was an only child. And like most only children, my imagination was my constant companion - my BFF. There was a lot of wearing funny hats and sitting in trees talking to myself and my invisible unicorn friend Bow, and I wrote a lot. Don't get me wrong I totally had friends - non-invisible ones - but I was always equally happy to sit down all day with a word processor. Literally, all day. Once I clocked 12 hours. And my imagination was prolific - there were bushels of short stories, books of poems, two unfinished novels and even one finished (not my best, I think, but a good start). Alone time was always my friend, and honestly, I wrote for myself.
The thing with story telling is that it can't exist in a vacuum. Something I am really digging about my acting classes at The Barrow Group is the way that they remind us, over and over in various ways, that we're actually not there to have a personal experience. We're there to tell a story. And we're not telling it to ourselves, we're telling it to our audience. I mean, duh, right? But somehow I super need the reminder. Actually, I never really thought about an audience while writing...which means I kind of missed the point.
I don't really write for myself anymore because I don't want to just sit with myself. Part of the reason I stopped writing poetry was because it felt a bit...self-involved. TOTALLY unlike blogging right??? Sheesh.
Well, anyway, I just needed to stop the poems for a bit. I didn't have the spare energy for sitting with myself because I had blocked that off and was so busy with other people, but now the thought of writing again is exciting to me because of other people. I want to write for them, tell them stories, give them poems. I want people to read my stuff. And I am really happy, actually, that I had some time away to think about the difference between living privately in my imagination and sharing parts of it with others. Communicating. After all, what use is a light if you hide it under a bushel?