Discussion #20: Degree of Difficulty

Yours truly is not feeling all that healthy, so I’m going to make this short. In the first year of what was to become my writing career, someone introduced me to Alan Ginsberg. I read and was astounded. Up until then, I had unknowingly been building pretty little fences around what could be written, and what shouldn’t be. Ginsberg taught me that there are no fences, only the writer’s choices.

So here are some questions: Are there things that you find too difficult to write about? What is the most difficult topic you have tackled with your pen or keyboard? What makes them difficult, or eases that difficulty? You can get as personal or honest as you choose.

The mic is now open:


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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8 Responses to Discussion #20: Degree of Difficulty

  1. pmwanken says:

    OK…I might have been the last to post for discussion #19, but I’ll make up for it by adding a quick comment to #20. [For you regulars, here…if you haven’t read my post to #19 — please do so. I want EACH of you to know how glad I am to know you and to be a part of this community! And if you HAVE read my #19 comment already, you’ll be glad I’m trying to be “quick” here — that last comment was quite long! 😉 ]

    Since starting my writing I have actually written about some things that I had never spoken of before…painful childhood and young adulthood experiences. For some who have read my poetry, you might have wondered or guessed about the autobiographical nature. There are many that it is CLEAR that I have written about personal experience. But there are also some poems that are not. So…which are me? And which are thee?

    I think that has helped me write about tough subjects. The fact that the truth can be hidden in place sight. Even with the ability to craft the poem in the 3rd person. Or as a male (instead of my own female voice).

    This has been an incredible outlet for expressing thoughts and feelings. Cathartic. And that has been a very good thing.

    Blessings to you all,
    ~ Paula

  2. Tilly Bud says:

    I choose not to be outspoken or controversial in my Laughing Housewife blog, as it is intended to be lighthearted, though I do occasionally talk about something that I can’t let go of until I’ve said it. But my poetry has covered almost everything that has happened to me, good or bad, even if obliquely. I write poetry whenever I have strong feelings; it is cathartic.

    So no, there’s nothing I won’t write about, but I choose my platform.

  3. neil reid says:

    For a while of late I’ve been napping with I don’t wanna write. And only fair to my own word (writer’s block being mostly trying to write when you don’t wanna write), I’ve let it be. Yet it gets to feel odd after a while.

    And yes and thank you Paula, I did go read your posting to #19. Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad for your sense of community and participation (and glad also that you acknowledge the spiritual component in writing for yourself too, not thinking in the least that’s something to be shy about). My own writing comes directly out of my experience of faith, although I’d say it some differently for me.

    In that sense and regard I think you get what you are willing to pay for in writing (or anything). (Is that an odd way to say it?) Meaning your experience is what you are willing to make of it – including writing, including why, including too, that sense of community. I have had over the time I’ve been blogging two rather close feeling friends simply slip away into silence. This reminds me how fragile our existence is here (and in life too). Were I to stop, how much would I be missed? So much for vanity! It is easy to be a poet here, and easy not to be.

    So what’s the purpose in writing? It is intimately personal I believe. That’s the foundation and how “sturdy” you’ll be as a writer I think.

    So, why write? What is my contribution (and how do I write meaningfully)? Although putting that cart in front of the horse is surely a way to stumble or stop I’d suspect. I did for a long time think my best poems were ones that specifically touched upon emotionally charged aspects of my life. Didn’t they seem more important to me? Didn’t they contain more energy than just casual observations? Might they not then be more apt to be honest or at least reveal more truth (albeit, personal truth)? These were poems I thought I trusted most.

    (See, I’m actually getting round to Elizabeth’s questions.) But I’ve come more to suspect that leaning is simply personal too and not what might be of necessity the better poem. My own history makes strong emotions seem more real, more honest – but isn’t that just me, my point of view? This suggests to me, not a reason to restrict what topic I decide to write about, but neither that such fences crossed are of nature more important than any other.

    Yet I’m a person (ego properly intact) and there are things I’m willing to write about and things I am not (or not yet). Maybe some things hurt too much, or just lack words to be expressed in a poetic manner. (Or fill in a few dozen more reasons why.) Yet no, mere discomfort is not a reason why “not” to write a poem for me – leastwise if I find the right mode to express the content. (That’s one small part in the question’s response.)

    I like for a poem to have meaning that nurtures in some manner, any manner, or allows for more understanding how it is being here. Subtle is fine, even obtuse is fine – but I want it to express existence honestly. (I don’t think I’d call that a boundary, not really.)

    What’s the most difficult poem? Probably, round eyes like windows are. Shame is a challenging topic to approach. What made it become visible, doable? Changing the shame into a desire to acknowledge fully the lesson learned – and that required expression. Also, not making myself the center of the universe, that makes a difference too! Acknowledging the life given up for me to learn and wanting that experience honestly shared – that takes me out of the middle.

    That’s how the invisible becomes visible for me.

    But strong emotions, they are not the point, no more than me, but rather the process of experience through expression – that’s the point of writing for me.

    So yes, I agree Elizabeth, it is a matter of the writer’s choice and willingness.

    Ha! Of course there’s the little matter of craft, so as to express without placing fences around the meaning too! Let the experience speak for itself.

    (And please pardon my meandering route writing this.) ~neil

  4. annell says:

    hummm…. it is probably all difficult, step by step, or word by word. I do like to make what I am thinking visible, otherwise in our busy lives, we probably have no idea “what” we are thinking? That “what” can be so elusive. I began writing seriously about death, loss, loneness, and longing.
    I do not know what I will write today, often it is a surprise, and this is good, when we surprise ourselves, at least, we are not boring to ourselves, but a constant source of wonder.

  5. annell says:

    I did go back and read the comments in the last discussion. I have been very busy, it the process as it were. So afraid it will slip away before I have had a chance to really explore it, or that I will feel differently about it, as often happens. So I have missed other things. Time continues to tick even if I haven’t looked at the clock for a while. Yes I really appreciate this discussion, and don’t want to miss a word.

  6. Pingback: Poetry Prompt[s] in Case You Aren’t Doing PAD or NaNoWriMo — Friday Freeforall « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  7. Mike Patrick says:

    I do not find a degree of difficulty in writing (unless one wants to count the difficulty in impossible forms, meter and rhyme schemes). While very few of my themes come from my life, it has been my privilege to rub shoulders with some people who are remarkable in their honor, courage and knowledge. Borrowing themes from my career has become automatic; although, it makes my blog darker than I would like it to be.

    My degree of difficulty is in taking those stories and making them palatable to a general audience. While it would be easy to write for cops— they get it—it is difficult to tone things down to levels for ‘normal’ human consumption. So much of a cop’s work is performed immersed in emotional extremes; it is easy to go overboard. I am only now learning to paint in shadows instead of blazing colors. Controlling sentimentality is the challenge.

    As for degrees of difficulty in writing about my personal life: my biography would be worth millions—as a cure for insomnia.

  8. Eulogy’s. Seems I have written a few of those in my life and they were by far the most difficult. Secondly, a true story about near death, and the doctors who made living through it, unbearable.

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