Through 1991, I had filled six journals with poetry and short prose. Then, it took me seven years to fill the seventh. The eighth journal has been less than half-filled since 1999 or so. This summer, 2013, I have vowed a return to the poetry journals just as I have returned to playwriting after too many years.
There is a box marked "Scott's Writing" in the basement. For years, it was a paper box, a Staples red box to be precise. Our first house in Pennsylvania flooded and I moved the writing to a clear plastic bin. While I know the bins can crack and leak, let me pretend that my writing is now a little safer.
Why not backup the writing to the cloud? Because much of the writing has never been digitized. The writing wasn't created on a computer. I still have poems and plays I wrote in fifth grade, Mr. B's class at Ivanhoe Elementary. I was a playwright and poet then... and I still am. I just got a bit lost along the way. "Books" bound with colored electrical tape and featuring crayon illustrations are meant to be what they are — physical artifacts of my youth.
It's hard to explain the gaps in my writing. There was a shift from poetry to scripts in 1999. Then, I stopped writing for several years. In 2004, I returned to graduate school and my creative writing was once again pushed aside. But why is that? Several of my classmates and a few professors managed to write creative and scholarly simultaneously.
Looking back, I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories while an undergraduate. I wrote hundreds of pages for myself, while writing academic papers, working on the school paper, and working 20 to 30 hours a week. What's my excuse for the lack of productivity in the last decade or so?
Writing well isn't about writing a lot — but the two aren't entirely separate. I'd like to be even a fraction as productive as I was years ago. You can always edit and revise once the ideas are on paper or stored away as bits of data.
As I have posted recently, I believe I was afraid of being "just a writer" instead of having a more secure career. An aspiring writer is like an aspiring actor: one works at Starbucks and the other waits tables, but they both have big dreams. Recently, I was asked if I'd consider acting in one of my stage plays. That would make me eligible for paying jobs as a barista and a waiter!
I wonder what coffee house poets are qualified to do?