on writing and stuff

The past two weeks have been spent writing my face off.  I wanted to share a piece I am particularly proud of, but first the back story of this piece.

It all started with this blog post that I wrote on Exploded Moments for a prompt from The Red Dress Club (before I was part of the leadership) called a day at the beach.  I liked it and got lots of good feedback, but I felt like it wasn’t quite right and I wanted to turn it into a poem.

I wrote a new draft of it in poem form and brought it to my writing group.  They did NOT hold back.  In fact, I was the last to go for the day, and on my drive home I wanted to punch a few of the in the mouth.  I asked Cort to please pick up Eddie and I went straight home to work on the piece because I was so crabby.

They totally misinterpreted what I was trying to say.

I realized, though, that that was my problem as the writer.  Writers don’t follow their work out into the world explaining what they meant.  The work has to stand on it’s own.

So I rewrote.

And took it back.

There were still issues, but this time instead of grumbling, I listened more closely to what my group said.

Today I read this for them.  I think I nailed it, but you tell me.

*************

Ashes

I didn’t belong there. Yet
I did.

I was family too. But
so new.

I don’t remember who drove the boat.
(does it matter? It wasn’t him.
Not anymore.
Not ever again.)

Three siblings sat on the bow of the fifty foot Sea Ray:
the last ride with Pops.

a widow clutched a metal box.

a pastor held his robes against the breeze.

and I
sat alone
in a small corner
with the extra line and hooks

apart.

The boat—set in a low idle—
calmly made its way
through
the
still waters of the channel to
the Big Lake
and I
searched the pier for
empathy.

*************

This is the picture that originally jogged my memory and inspired the poem…

spreading the ashes

heading out to spread Pops' ashes Labor Day weekend, 2005. Cort, Cody, and Kenz on the bow

I do have more pieces from the past two weeks, but I am still working on them to send away in my portfolio.

What do you think of this one?  Does it seem the two weeks was worth it?

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I think it is wonderful. You did a great job with it and I can see the scene in my mind. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think you did nail it. Absolutely.

  3. I really like it, but do have some comments (but if you’re sick of talking about this piece just ignore me).

    I read the original piece and the image of his parents on the dock, choosing not to go, was particularly poignant for me. It’s different without it – not worse, just different.

    With where you take it at the end, my assumption about this as the reader is that this piece is about you. Your perspective and your feelings about not quite being comfortable being there. And if so, then you totally got that across.

    But at the end I’m left wondering who you’re looking to for empathy, because we no longer know his parents are there. We don’t know about the other boats who are out for a different, happier reason. So who are you looking to?

    So those are my comments (questions?) but I really like what you did with the structure of it. And the visuals – the widow with the box and the pastor with his robes – are excellent.

    Were the two weeks worth it? Yes. Because you got a great piece out of it. And you became more comfortable with feedback, which is great for all of us to do once in a while. And you found your writing mojo. And I suspect, like all good learning, you’ll have insights yet to come. Totally worth it.

  4. Ok, so now that we’ve had this totally funny convo by Twitter DM, I will put this into the official record 😉 If you’re focusing on ONE thing and it’s about your feelings in that situation then yes, you totally nailed it.

  5. Good job, lady. I’m a big fan of yours 🙂

  6. I remember the original post. I think the poem is lovely.

    I’m also glad you talk all your frustration with how it was perceived and channeled it back into reworking. It is hard not to take critique personally, because our words are our babies. But if you get past that and hear what the criticism is – separate from you – it can be incredibly helpful!

    xo

  7. At the risk of sounding too much like an English teacher (instead of a reader/appreciator of poetry) I LOVE your use of enjambment – particularly in the first two stanzas where you leave the Yet and But hanging there…

    A concrete example of your abstract emotions.

    I haven’t read any of the other drafts; so for me, this first view puts me right there.

    p.s. It is SOOO hard to hear critique, isn’t it? Oh, lordy. When I share my work with others a part of me just wants them to love it as it is. Don’t tell me my baby is ugly! But polite nods and empty praise wouldn’t be helpful, right? You (and everyone who submits words for judgment) are very brave. This end result was hopefully worth the frustration.

  8. Con crit is so hard to take sometimes, but I’m glad it evoked enough emotion in you to take another look and rework it. That’s what good criticism is suppose to do!

    I think it’s a beautiful poem. You say so much in just a few words.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I wish I was in a live writing group.

  9. katie,

    this is absolutely lovely, and I agree that you nailed it!

    i can’t imagine someone like you requiring concrit…but it makes me feel a bit better about my own writing. i am terrible when i get concrit—it’s like I WANT it, but I DON’T. and it’s upsetting sometimes.

    but for what it’s worth (and I didn’t see the original piece), this is awesome and I can totally feel YOU throughout it.

  10. Beautifully written.
    It’s speaks volumes of how you want to be there for support but do not want to over step any boundaries.

  11. I remember that original post. I liked it but this is wonderful! Great job!

  12. Oh, Katie. I loved it when you first wrote it.
    But this? This is beyond.
    I especially adore the ending:

    “The boat—set in a low idle—
    calmly made its way
    through
    the
    still waters of the channel to
    the Big Lake
    and I
    searched the pier for
    empathy.”

    Simply perfect.

  13. Oh Katie, I was holding my breath reading this one.

    The widow, clutching the box…I could see her.

    You are living the life of a writer, Katie. Struggle, rework, breathe once in a while. I love that.

  14. I felt the emotions of everyone on the boat. Therefore, I would have to vote YES. The two weeks were definitely worth it. To convey the emotions of so many different people in so few words? Amazing. You rocked it girl.

  15. that was just gorgeous, really. Your words were just perfect for this piece. YEA!