On Writing During Busy Times

My boyfriend and I are apartment hunting while states away from the city where we are going to live. We are also preparing for our jobs in the fall, trying to spend time with friends, and tying up our loose ends for the summer. We both feel the pressure of the season winding down. In the midst this exciting but hectic time, I am also trying to work on my book manuscript, which is a challenge.

One thing I've learned while trying to work during this transition time is to write quick sketches that I might return to later. I have not polished up very many poems over the past two months, but I do have a handful of rough drafts that arrive at strong central ideas or a handful of good images. Usually, I prefer to cycle through multiple drafts of a poem several times in one day, quickly getting it to a fairly polished place. However, that method is simply not going to suffice right now; my mind is too busy with other things for that to happen, and I am comforted that I am at least getting the beginnings of decent pieces down on paper.

I also am finding myself thinking about the poetry books that are really important to me and using their energy as inspiration to keep moving forward with my own poems. The books most often on my mind as of late are Jan Heller Levi's lovely collections, Once I Gazed at You in Wonder and Skyspeak. They are very closely related volumes, and in them Levi deals with adjusting to change, how small choices can dramatically alter our lives, and the importance of family and romantic love. What always strikes me most about her poems is her take on confession is simultaneously open, clear, self-critical, smart, humorous, and compassionate. Take, for example, "Best Cup of Coffee in Town," which doubles back on its self, questioning its thinking before ultimately coming to a conclusion that feels authentic. (It accomplishes all of this while also being held together with end-rhymes that sneak in under the chattiness of the poem.) Levi is unafraid to be transparent, and I value that quality more than most in poetry; her craft inspires me.

And so, I keep forging ahead with my writing.

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