So last week I went into a library for the first time in years. A leaflet stand caught my eye, and all of a sudden, I found myself unable to resist taking on a new challenge.
This January, my husband made the New Year’s resolution to try and read 100 books in 2022. He’s been doing really well, so well in fact, that he’s run out of books that we have in the house! Rather than buying a bunch more, he went to get a library card. I tagged along, as I always do, and took a wander round the wee library while he was getting his card.
I noticed a leaflet stand, which was mostly about local events and the like. I picked up one about garden locations, (because I can’t resist a photography day at a garden centre) But then I saw one about a local poetry competition.
I picked it up on a whim, and didn’t really know why. I gave it a read and thought that it sounded like a great idea (I had no clue there were any writing events nearby!), but not really something I could get involved in. Because while I love all types of writing, and I really enjoy the little poems I do at the end of each post, I’ve never tried to do a big, serious one, and I felt seriously under qualified.
We returned home (along with a bundle of library books), and I looked at the leaflet again. I saw that the closing date for the competition hadn’t passed yet, there was still 10 days left. But anyway, I didn’t have a poem to enter, it’s not like I could write one in only 10 days, and even if I could, I’m not good enough to enter a competition!
But over the next day, I kept looking at the leaflet. In my heart, I’d already made a decision, though I kept denying it to myself. Ultimately, even with a serious case of impostor syndrome, I couldn’t resist the seemingly impossible challenge!
Because I had wasted a day thinking about whether or not to enter, I now only had 9 days to write the poem. This was rather daunting, and then a big question came up. What was I going to write about?
I scoured the leaflet back to front, and went on their website to see if there was any more information. I had hoped there was a suggested topic, as that would take a bit of pressure off. There wasn’t, though, so that was my first stumbling block, which took a whole day to get over.
I did find an interview with one of the judges, who basically said they were looking for something that is true to itself, and that was written with sincerity, and I thought that was really nice. Because of that, I decided to do a poem about a story, rather than a subject. I thought about picking a relevant or timely issue, but I know I don’t really have much I want to say (that isn’t just a page of expletives) about politics, or Coronavirus or anything like that. While I might not always have important things to say, I do always have stories to tell, so I went for a little story that is close to my heart.
So with a topic chosen, I was now down to 8 days to get it finished. The rules said the poem could be a maximum of 40 lines. That’s ok, I thought, I won’t have to worry about mine being too long (I’d prove myself wrong later.)
Apart from length, all the other technicalities were left up to your own decision, so that was my next job. I’m not sure if rhyming is quite as popular as it used to be, but I decided to make mine rhyme, because I just like the sound of it, I felt it gives things a nice funky rhythm.
So then I had no more planning to do, and with a looming time limit, I had to get writing. I got a pencil and notebook and started putting down some ideas. Just little lines and basic events that happen in the story. To my surprise, the rhyming came easily and managed to fit to the plot without having to struggle to force certain words in.
I got the first verse done in one evening, but as I went to bed, I couldn’t stop thinking, and as I was trying to get to sleep, exciting word combinations kept flying around in my head. I had to wake up and write them down each time so I didn’t forget anything!
The next day, I finished verse 2, and things seemed to be going well. The day after that, I got through verse 3, and that’s when I realised that the length was going to be difficult after all. I had to seriously tighten up the descriptions, and just barely managed to squeeze the finale into verse 4, coming in at exactly 40 lines!
I took me till 4 AM, powered by whiskey and my 3 favourite Rod Stewart songs played on repeat, but I did it! I actually finished the poem in time to enter into the competition!
The winners will be announced in September at a book festival, so it’ll be fun to go and cheer on whoever wins. And it won’t be me, but that’s ok! I didn’t enter because I expected to win, I wanted to challenge myself to try something new, something crazy and daunting, something way out of my league. I wasn’t expecting to miraculously become a master poet in a few days, my only expectation was to have an exciting challenge, and make something that I can be proud of enough to put out into the world!
In the end, I had a lot of fun writing a poem, and I created something that I actually am pleased with. Also, I proved to myself that there was no real reason not to give something scary a go! In fact, I’d actually love to find more writing competitions or similar things in the future.
So if you’re prone to impostor syndrome like me, or you’re nervous about trying something new, just have a go! There’s usually nothing to lose, and you can always be proud of yourself in the end for being brave!
Thanks for reading, and once the competition is over, I’ll post the actual poem so everyone can see how cheesy my rhymes are!
This weeks photo prompt is of all the Starlings that came to my front window this week! I usually get a few of them every day, but what’s nice about this time, is that they brought all their babies with them! I got to see them feeding the juvenile ones, which are very fluffy and brown and adorable.
Perhaps this will be the first competition,
Of many more to come.
Entering was exciting and enjoyable,
Terrors of impostor syndrome faded away,
Rhyming made me feel joyful.
Years after year, more poems will happen.
Thanks for reading!