Why I Stopped Trying to Write Fiction
Rachel Darnall
358

I’ve been trying to put together something less poetic and more article-like lately — I’m not entirely sure why. I believe the need originates in being bowled over the by ease with which your articles read. I want to write with such ease. The poetry I’ve been doing lately makes me feel like I’m dipping into strange waters — waters I’m not sure even I want to swim in. I’ve got a poem waiting in my Drafts folder right now that I could without hesitation publish. The language feels (to me) rich, the images are (again, to me) precise, and the quality of thought does (hopefully) what I think the best poets do when thinking in their poems— that is to say, it leaps from subject to subject without all the qualifications and explanations and linkages essays and articles require. I like that freedom. I’ve always liked it. I’m not the most articulate person, and it’s freeing to be able to write about, say, a broken seashell and a story I wrote about a carjacking in the same stanza.

But.

But. The poem has at its core an ethic I’m sure I can stand beside. It scares me the thing came from me. Some poets claim a nearly finished poem take on a life of its own. Fiction writers have claimed the same thing about nearly finished stories. But this poem… I have to ask myself, does the feeling I have about this piece come as a result of trying too hard?

Thanks for sharing the process you went through to discover your voice, Rachel. It has — what did your other readers say? — it has “made me think.” It has given me pause, in a good way. It has given me a way of thinking about my own problems with writing. I may put up the poem, to test the waters. But I’ll seriously consider whether it’s worth it to try and speak in my own essayistic voice for a while, if for no other reason than to try and wrestle with these thoughts I’m having about poetry and whether I’ve got anything truly poetic to say.

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