I had decided on days two and three to put the process in with the prompt but then I decided I didn’t like that SO… going back to putting the process in it’s own post.
PROMPT FOUR: Witches / water, vampires / wooden stakes. Anything can be destroyed. Drag a shame of yours into a room, then kill it.
Drag a shame of yours into a room, then kill it.
Have I mentioned that poetry is HARD?? Well it is. I wish that things just flowed out of me like turning on a tap and poetry would just COME OUT, but that is not how it works for me these days. On to the poeming.
The first question: What is a shame of mine? What do I cringe at the thought of? What have I done that I wish I hadn’t? That I prefer people not know about? … I. Don’t. Know. I am one of those obnoxious people who is pretty near an open book. I hide very little and I feel like shame is kin to regret and even the unfortunate things that may not have gone the way I wanted I don’t hold as regret or shame. So I ask myself, what SHOULD I be ashamed of? Or maybe I could just make it up… but that is not how I write. I write my autobiography one poem at a time. SO… back to my shame… I have about 40 prompts to choose from and I am tempted to skip this one, but… I will not. I don’t want to write about the obvious horror of my assault. Even though I still deal with my part in my own harm… I think this is the one I need to kill… I don’t know if I can in this poem… but I think I should try… Maybe.
I must find the place.
If you have been reading my process up to now, then you know that I like to have a place or a scene in/on which to put the concept of the prompt. I am still in the dark with this one. I suppose that is reflective of Rachel’s style as well as of the relatively serious issue her project deals with (sexual assault). For those who missed it, I started in the dimly lit church of my body. Then in the shadowy forest of my mother. Yesterday I was in a candle lit room having a seance to deal with issues with my deceased parental trio.
Where is THIS poem?? … it’s definitely dark and filled with shadows… scraggy trees… I feel like maybe this should be in a cemetary… like the thing is something that should be dead but won’t lay down… or that it is being horrifyingly noisy in a place that should be silent… There is a wrongness here… a displacement… I feel like there should be fog laying low to the ground… classic black and white horror flick style… all the cliches with the eerie organ music and bats across the moon and all of that… a dark and gloomy house next to the cemetary… or perhaps a large tomb smack in the middle… I can’t decide… but I have an idea.
Now to figure out WHAT IS IT (and how to kill it… and where)…
I want to have a specific shame because the metaphor works better for me if I have something solid to work with as a foundation. I think I feel something coming on… a story of the creature “my shame”… I can see the creature even though I don’t know her name yet. she is shades of grey. She is darkness from her core. She is fangs and leathery skin with patchy hairs. She is ugly. Deeply, profoundly, nearly indescribably ugly, like hate, like SELF hate, like ruin, like the time you knew it was your fault and you stayed because you didn’t know what else to do kind of ugly. The horror of this creature rips into the soul and is debilitatingly frightening. Like medusa to where you’re afraid if you look at her the sheer awful of it will turn you to stone. She still doesn’t have a name, but at least there is a form.
Now for the plot… HOW WILL I KILL IT? (and where?)… the work begins…
I feel like the tomb is the best place… a mausoleum of cold gray stone… to drag her up the entrance stairs and then back down into the belly of the tomb to meet her demise… OK so got the where first… now the HOW… HOW??… What is the weakness of this shame? What is the Achilles heel weakness?…
For this I look to the internet… a list has been formed:
1. Blow Them Up (Jaws)
2. Decapitate Them (Zombie Movies)
3. Flamethrower (Aliens)
4. Befriend Them (Super 8) <— This one is a NO. NOPE.
5. Chase Them To The Top Of A Building (King Kong, Frankenstein)
6. Wait Until Daytime (Days of Night – vampires)
7. Let A Draft In (War of the Worlds)
8. Cricket Bats (Shaun of the Dead – zombies)
9. Lawnmower (Braindead – zombies)
10. Take Them Out From The Inside (Men In Black – giant ailien cockroach)
11. Gut ‘Em Like a Fish (Riddick)
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO KILL THIS BEAST… I will have to ruminate on this further… there is work to be done…
To write this poem I had to pick the shame. At first I resisted writing about the assault. Perhaps because in the creative circle I frequent, it’s bordering on too obvious. I tried to write about my being a cheater and being the one someone cheated on someone else with… I have most of a poem from that exercise, BUT… it felt too weak. For infidelity I wrote the origin story and then more detail. I didn’t get to the part where I had to flesh out the plan to get it to the place to be killed and what its weakness is. That is where it got soft bellied to me. :-/
I’m not a dark writer normally, but I felt like this prompt (the whole series so far really) requires shadow, shadow, SHADOW. Plus, I really WANT to kill the shame from the assault. BUT… it is so hard to write abstractly about something that was so visceral in the moment. I did it anyway. It was not easy. 1st to walk around the shame but not name it… I may edit and name the shame, but I doubt it.
After doing something else for a while and coming back to think about it, I am killing my guilt at not speaking out just as much as my shame at putting myself in the situation that led to my own injury. I feel some editing coming on! It feels like the work is always in progress… write on…
What is your process when you write? Is there anything that is your standard “go-to” method? Do you use prompts or just write from your own thoughts? I would love to hear your take on this in the comments!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
I plan on doing the annual chapbook as a perfect bound book and all profits will be divided evenly between Rachel McKibbens’ Outlast Project and the local women’s shelter. If you would like to pre-order this book, you can do so for $15 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and please be sure to include your shipping address. THANK YOU!