Trunking a project is always a weird feeling. You’ve been hoping beyond hope that you could keep this project alive, even as it’s going down in flames. He’s dead, Jim. The heart stopped beating some time ago, and there’s no way to revive it. Time to file away the document, close the notebook covers, and file them away under At Least I Tried (or alternately for me, Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time). Time to move on.
I’ve trunked a number of story ideas over the years. My first couple of novels, my screenplays, and nearly all the story ideas that never evolved past their initial first couple of days of workshopping. The digital versions are all filed away in a nondescipt ‘etc writing’ folder, and all the printouts are gathering dust on one of my bookshelves.
I don’t think I’ve ever trunked a format before, however.
This past Thursday, I decided I was going to make it official and stop writing poetry. At least until further notice. [The fact that I chose to do so on National Poetry Day was a complete fluke, by the way. I didn’t know about it until after I’d made the decision.] For a bit of closure, yesterday afternoon I wrote a eulogy poem called “30”, and once I was done, I filed that composition notebook away with all the others.
So why did I chose to take this step? Well, partly because over the last five or six years, it started feeling more like a chore and an exercise and less like something I used to enjoy. See, when I started writing poetry semi-seriously, I was a senior in high school. That’s back in 1988, folks. It was primarily a mental and emotional escape for me, and over the years it never really changed.
I think it says something really positive that I no longer need that outlet.
The downside is that any poetry I have written over the past, say, seven or eight years, has felt forced and lifeless. Like I was doing it for homework rather than for any personal or professional reason. There were moments where it was fun, like when I was writing it for my now-closed Dreamwidth account, but I really was beginning to lose interest in it.
So why did it take me so long to make this decision?
Well, a few things, really. Like I said, I’d been writing poetry since 1988. Since before then, really. My first attempts were actually back in 5th grade, which would be seven years earlier in 1981. I’d dabbled with song lyrics and other things since then, but 1988 is when I first started focusing on it as a valid creative and emotional outlet, using one of those Mead composition books with the mottled black and white cardboard cover (you know the ones I’m talking about). I have about twenty of them now, some filled to the ending pages and some with only a small fraction of pages used. So making the decision to put that part of my life away after twenty-eight years was no easy decision. It had become a close confidant.
But the main reason? Simply put: I couldn’t think of anything to write about in that format anymore. I had no need for it. My writing projects and processes have changed significantly over the years — especially over the last five or so years — that I had little to no time to focus on it. It felt a bit frivolous. Poetry was no longer my avenue for self-guided therapy…that’s now hiding in my personal journals, offline and well away from everything else going on. I had nothing to write about anymore in poetry form.
Does that mean I’ll never write another poem again? Hardly. I’m sure I’ll scribble a stanza or two in my journal. And I’m quite sure I still have a few song lyrics in me that have yet to surface. This only means that I’m not going to force myself to write something that no longer works as a viable format for me anymore.
It’s time for me to move on, to continue to evolve as a writer.