Archives for category: Creative Writing
Who knew this was hiding deep down?

I’ve never been one to write poetry. As someone who always loved English classes in school, poetry was the worst part. It just never came to me. Imagine my surprise when this little piece fell onto the page. It was very much an “emotional vomit”. For years it has sat in the dark. I’ve reread it a number of times, but never, ever, wanted to share it.

Until recently. In a discussion with a group of writers, poetry came up. If I was ever going to share, this was the time. My heart pounded so strongly, I could barely hear the sound of my voice. Admittedly though, I nearly crapped out. I came very close to not reading it.

It was interesting to see the reactions. I know what this poem means to me. It’s personal, which is why I hadn’t wanted to share. Would people know what it was really about? Seems not. Everyone brought meaning to it based on their experiences, their lives, their points of view. It was surprising and awesome.

These words are not a window into my thoughts and feelings. Right. And even if they were, so what?

In the spirit of sharing, in the spirit of releasing whatever meaning is still attached to this piece…. Here’s the first poem I wrote – many years ago.

Let it mean what you want it to mean. If that’s nothing, well, I’m a-okay with that too.

I Am Not You

You came to me in a time of need
Settled in so I would not bleed
The comfort was great
But is it too late?

It’s time to move on
Stifling me is wrong
Your intentions are honourable
But the result is frustration

I feel like I’m stuck
Too deep in this rut
I want to move on
I need to live life full on

Thanks for all that you did
For keeping me safe
For allowing me to breath
I’m ready now to be
So please set me free

I am not you

I am me

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Sometimes just stepping off, or jumping, into the unknown is in and of itself the victory. Sometimes venturing out of our comfort zone is really what it’s all about, no matter the result.

Last week was a bit of a test for me in this regard. For the first time ever, I submitted a piece of work to a writing contest. Actually, I submitted pieces to two contests.

The first one was easier for me. It’s the CBC non-fiction contest. The only criteria was a word count of no more than 2000. And clearly, it must be non-fiction. Done. Submitted. I like that little story – but then it’s about my life, or rather a certain experience I look back at fondly. So of course I like it. To this competition, I even submitted a second piece! It’s much shorter, and about my first memory.

Cool. Felt good to submit.

Now comes the waiting to see what, if anything, comes of it. And I do mean wait… The “long list” gets published in September. Ugh. I’m sure there are a great many entries, so it’s not that surprising. Still, I’d like to know sooner than that! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I expect to win or even be long-listed. I’d just like to know. I guess I still need to learn how to just let it go and accept the not knowing. Always a work in progress!

Then there’s the second competition. A piece of fiction, which had to include a black notebook and a $20,000 windfall, and be between 600-2000 words. For some reason, this one felt uncomfortable. So much so, I nearly didn’t submit! I went back and forth in my head – I will, it’s a good little story. I won’t, it’s just a silly story. I will. I won’t. And on and on.

At the last minute, I did. Why not? I’d done the work, so might as well. And this one is actually already published online. Maybe that’s why it made me feel uncomfortable – knowing it would be there, living online. It’s a site called Vocal – a forum for writers to submit their work, build readership, enter competitions (with prize money) and even make a little money. The more your work is read, the more money you make. It’s not a lot of money, mind you – it certainly won’t make you rich, but hey. Why not?

Shameless self-promotion side-bar. Would you take a few minutes to read my piece? As a new contributor to the site, it would be good for my profile. And if you want to “like” my piece, that would be awesome too. And really, NO PRESSURE! Apparently you need to sign up to be able to “like”, and that could be taking things too far. If it is, just step away.

Ugh…enough of that.

If you had told me a year ago that I would write and submit three pieces to two competitions, I would have looked at you sideways and said “really?” I’ve always enjoyed writing, but hadn’t put much thought into it. Now that I have done this, I feel a sense of accomplishment. That’s right, whether my work is deemed worthy of a prize or not, it feels amazing simply to have sent it in.

Sometimes you just need to take that step. Even if it feels like you’re jumping off a swing into the abyss. What’s the worst that can happen? People won’t like what I’ve written? Oh well. Not everyone’s going to think my pieces are fun, or good or exciting or well-written. I’m not trying to please everyone. I’m just writing, and putting it out there.

And the putting it out there feels good. The putting it out there is the accomplishment.

And now time for something a little different….

I have been playing around with some creative writing recently. As part of this, I picked an image and made up a little story about it. Here it is.

Nobody understands why I sit here and play the accordion all day. I see you walk by and look at me with pity. A pity I neither deserve nor need. If only you knew. If only you knew.

The flurry of people calms me.  This is what gets me out of bed every day. It has been years since I felt the warmth of a woman beside me. Our actions have consequences, and I know I deserve no more than I have. I haven’t always been the quiet man sitting at the corner, with a perpetual smile, a hello to passers-by, and a song to share.

Sometimes it feels like it was someone else’s life. The dark secrets, the travel in the night, the lies and half-truths, the deceptions. All in the name of “a greater cause”, the security of my country and my people. The things I was asked to do….the things I did do….would anyone understand? It was a younger man’s game, a younger man’s fight. A younger man’s delusion. 

A delusion. Were my actions for the greater good? Are people safer now because of them? I am not convinced. And yet, most days I wake up with adrenaline coursing through my veins, eager for the fight. Some days I even wake up in a full sweat, in the midst of a flash-back to times I slipped away from the knife at my throat or the gun pointed in my direction. It’s an odd thing to both want and not want to be that man again, and to see the faces of those whose lives I cut short every time I close my eyes.

My greatest delusion was that I could be that man and keep you safe, keep you away from the dangers I danced through daily. Blinded by arrogance, I did not see that they would to get to me by finding the one I cherished above all others. Anastasia, can you forgive me for the lies and the way in which you left this world? Do you know that my greatest truth was the amount to which I loved you, and still do? I wish I could regret having stepped into your world and thereby ensuring you would never live to be old and grey. My selfishness prevents me from doing so. I never deserved you and for that you paid the price. Forgive me.

So I come here every day. To the place I first saw your smile. To where we shared our first kiss. And I play the songs to which we spent many evenings dancing under moonlit skies. I try to hold onto those moments where time stood still and I knew I was the luckiest man in the world.

And I pray for a salvation I know will never come.

******

I hope you enjoyed that. I know I enjoyed writing it.

A special thank you to A Simple Sketchbook for reinterpreting the photo into a lovely sketch so I could have an image to accompany this post.