One of my first assignments this term for my MFA lyric essay class is to keep a weekly journal. Despite my love of writing and despite the purchase of all the cute journaling accoutrements—colored pens, journal with writerly mantra on the cover, and irresistible Etsy stickers—I have not, as yet, been able to discipline myself to use those tools daily or even weekly. I’ve never been very good at journaling. Even my teenage diary had huge gaps, often as lengthy as a year between entries. Then it struck me that I’m not actually good at blogging either and that perhaps the two are related *she realizes, smacking her hand to her forehead.*
Back to the lyric essay class and my weekly journal. In my one failed attempt to do some copywriting, I found myself struggling to switch back and forth between copywriting and creative writing. In fact, my foray into copywriting so seriously derailed my creative writing, I was okay with not being very good at it and happy to give it up. Although there isn’t the same sizeable gap between literary nonfiction and creative nonfiction, I guess it is my tendency to be apprehensive of what I do not know.
Additionally, I often feel I haven’t found my own unique writing rhythm being as yet unpublished, so making changes to my current style leave me feeling wobbly, a new driver who occasionally crosses the double yellow lines. I’ve never been very good at poetry or lyrics even though, as a young person–like so many young people–I thought I was. Looking back, it’s horrifying to remember how many of my woeful stabs at poetry were published in my high school newspaper and literary journal.
As I grew older, I realized poetry wasn’t really my thing and developed a love of creative nonfiction. When I first began to take classes toward my MFA, I didn’t really understand what lyrical nonfiction was. I’m still not sure I do, but as corny as it sounds, even though my poetry is horrible, I find I crave this outlet, this method of sneaking poetry into my writing. I love the idea of breaking down traditional structural barriers and being wildly creative although I’m not sure I know how to do it or if I can even write in such a manner.
So this is how I approach lyrical writing. I liken learning how to write lyrically to someone who has never been taught to dance and who must now learn to move with complete abandon, swinging her hair wildly from side to side to the beat of the music.