The past few months have been a whirlwind, mainly filled with work, travel, and personal endeavors. It’s not easy to find time to write during such busy schedules, but a committed writer will make a way. My goal this year has been to finish a set of poems centered around a single theme and publish them as a chapbook. A chapbook is known in the poetry world as a small paperback booklet of poems, not totaling more than about 25 poems or 40 pages, that is handmade or inexpensively published. Today, chapbooks serve as a way to break into the industry, use as a resume, or fund spoken word tours, etc.
The process has been an introspective and challenging one. It’s also been an empathetic one, as I’ve found myself drawing on not just my own experiences but other situations I’ve never been through. The group of poems I’m working on now is a set of 24, divided into three sections and centered around the idea of loss. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about almost finishing it! I’m in the final stages of editing and laying out the book, including deciding what size and style font to use. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t tell you all too much of what it’s about yet. Ohhh the suspense!
Tackling this kind of endeavor isn’t easy–I have a lot more respect for full-length poetry manuscripts now. As I was sifting through poems trying to decide what to include and how to order them I learned a lot about what it means to have a body of work. Any artist wants to look back on their work and see a progression of talent, work, and vision. That takes dedication, sacrifice and humility. It might seem strange to some, but writing is very similar to acting for me. Growing up, reading was great because I could relate to characters who were like me. It was also satisfying to feel like I was living another life, maybe going on a secret mission with a kid spy, or feeling the anguish of a child who’d just lost a relative. Being on the other side of the pen allows me that same relief, but it takes quite a bit of role-playing to say the least. Yes, I can write about my own thoughts or emotions, but I enjoy delving into other scenarios and characters, spending time creating their situation, thought process, and feelings until they are real in my head and I feel like I’m living their experience. “All in ten lines?” is what you’re probably thinking. Yes, all in ten lines. It doesn’t take a stage, camera, or 60,000 word novel for me to put on my “acting cap” and try on the narrative of another human being. While fleshing out the range of emotions that I wanted to cover in my chapbook, I’ve found myself in a plethora of shoes, and it’s one of the most exciting literary experiences I’ve had so far.
It’s a good exercise in writing, thinking and feeling to write from another perspective. I encourage everyone to try it sometime, it builds a nice amount of empathy and imagination too. Let me know what you’re working on and stay tuned for updates on the chapbook! 🙂