Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Fence

post by Lynn

My husband and I adopted a dog from the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies organization last September, just after we had moved to a 3 and ¼ acre property outside of Cheyenne.

There was no fence. Luna, the dog, is a runner, so we installed an electric fence – a system where a collar delivers a shock if the dog crosses over the boundary wire. We followed the training directions point by point, but then we had a mishap. Luna pulled the leash out of my hand before we had completely trained her on the boundaries. She ran. She got shocked. Repeatedly. I cried.

Amazingly, she didn’t run away. But she got it. She knows the boundaries now. We don’t even need to put the collar on her. Even with the marking flags covered over in snow, she doesn’t step one centimeter over the line.

You see where I’m going with this, right? We all have invisible boundaries in our writing life which, because of the memory of some long-ago punishment, we will not cross.

For me it’s poetry. I will gleefully dabble in fiction and non, play and screenwriting, essay, you name it. But a long while back I penned some really bad poetry, submitted it to a contest, and got a critique. ZAP!

Ever since, I stop at that line, gazing out into poetry land thinking I ought to go there someday, but the pain memory stops me.

Until now. I’ve finally realized that I want to go there worse than I fear the jolt of failure. I want to play in the terrain of that genre – its steep images and deep fissures of symbolism. Poetry is a stark desert with no place to hide, and it is the next stop on my writing journey.

So, God help me, I just started a poetry class at Laramie County Community College.

I cringe as I stretch my toe over the line…

What invisible boundaries are you loathe to cross in your writing life?


Jenny said...

Good for you! You might be shocked--not literally--at how easy and natural poetry feels to you now that you've reached out in that direction.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Interesting post, Lynn. I hadn't thought about this before, but maybe there are some interesting reasons why I avoid writing poetry and personal essays.

Lynn said...

I do think there's a reason we are drawn to certain subjects and genres.

It depends on your personality, but some of us need to drag ourselves out of our comfort zone in order to grow. I remember a long time ago I read some self-help book with a phrase that has stuck with me: Move toward anxiety.

Mostly I want to learn some of what those poets know about language :)

Bargegirl said...

Go for it, I say! God help you, and may she help us all.

Deborah Nielsen said...

I'll gladly do or try any type of non-fiction, including interviews, and even poetry. But fiction? That's one fence that I balk at jumping over. It's not just the making up a story but getting the plot plotted, dreaming up a character, and getting the character(s) through the plot from beginning to end. I admire writers who can do this well.

Luana Krause said...

Lynn: You've inspired me to tackle poetry again as well. It's a bit scary to bare you soul, but that's what writers do. Let's not play it safe. Great post!

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