In defense of those who commit suicide.

Unpopular opinion:  suicide is not a selfish act and if you say/believe that it is, you are the selfish person.

Now, if you can swallow the ignorant reply that is trying to come out of your mouth right now, sit back and listen for a moment, because the people who have killed themselves might not have a voice, but I do and I am angry at the shit living people say about the dead.

Depression is a sad, sad thing and it kills people.  Depression is an illness and just because it kills people by causing them to take their own lives it does not make those deaths any less significant than say, someone who dies of cancer.

I have depression and have since I was very young.  I didn’t know what it was, or why I felt the way I did for a long time, but I’ve learned more about my illness over the years and how to cope with it.  I have contemplated suicide, but never attempted.  That is called suicide ideation, which is very different than actually attempting or committing suicide.

Here I am going to try to shed some light on why some people commit suicide and what they go through leading up to that decision.

Starting with what depression is like.

Depression is waking up everyday and not wanting to get out of bed because there is no point to your life.  Even if there is, your brain tells you “nope, you’re wrong, nothing you do will ever matter, you should just lay here instead.”  Depression is your brain saying over and over “no one loves you no one loves you no one loves you if they say they love you they’re lying because they don’t actually know how worthless you are.  By the way, you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless.” Depression is making art and hating it, but loving it, but also hating it and your brain telling you that your art is worthless too.  You’re worthless.

It does not matter what people say to you.  Even the best support by the most loving person is just another thing depression can tell you isn’t true.  That either they are lying, or they don’t understand you well enough to know that they should support or love you.  When someone in your life hurts or kills themselves, you cannot blame yourself.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how loving or supportive you are, depression can and will block that all out.

Some people take medication and it helps, some people take medication and it doesn’t help.  Some people take medication and they kill themselves because they suddenly have the energy and motivation to do so when their depression kept them from it before.  Some people self medicate with drugs, alcohol, etc, other people self medicate with hobbies.

Some people kill themselves.

Suicide is never a selfish act.  When a person commits suicide, most of the time they don’t believe that their lives have enough of an impact to matter.  Most depressed people believe that everyone around them is better off without them.  It does not matter if this is true or not.  This is what their depression tells them.  For the suicidal person, they have been told over and over by their own brain that if they die, no one will care and/or their family and friends will be better off without them.

I’ve been there.  I have been so close to the edge that I could taste it.  I self medicated with self harm and that kept me from stepping over that edge.  I have lived through dark moments where I thought how wonderful it would be to never have to wake up again because waking up is hard.  There were nights that I locked myself in the bathroom of my apartment while my sister was in bed texting a friend and cut myself until my skin went numb.  The emptiness inside of me made me want to scream, but I couldn’t let her know anything was wrong.  So I cut myself to feel something other than the yawning nothingness that stretched out inside of me.  Every day I used to wake up and wonder why I couldn’t be normal, why I couldn’t care like other people did.  I went through the motions with my friends, pretending that I was having fun, getting drunk enough that I could fool myself into having fun.  I partied three or four nights out of the week just to convince myself I was fine, then on the nights I didn’t go out, I talked to strangers online that I didn’t care about just to keep myself from being alone, because if I was alone, I would let myself die.

Everyone experiences depression differently.  Some people are depressed and never want to kill themselves, some people are like me and want to die but never attempt suicide, some people attempt to and survive, other people commit suicide to end their own suffering and the suffering that they believe they are causing everyone around them.

Depression (unless you live with it) is not about you, it is about the person dealing with it and their feelings.  When a person commits suicide it is not about you.  Yes, you are allowed to be upset, yes when someone influential or close to you commits suicide, it affects you, but it is not about you.  It is about them and what they were going through.

All of this being said, we can never truly know what another person was thinking when they decide to kill themselves.  Even when they leave a note, we can never really understand their reasons unless we have gone through exactly what they have.

What we can do is encourage those who need help to seek it.  We can ask “What can I do to help you?” rather than give advice on how to deal with depression (especially those of you who have never experienced it). We can do our research and understand that “being sad” isn’t the only symptom of depression so that we know what signs to look for.  We can listen and be sympathetic rather than assuming someone is crying out for attention.  And even if someone is crying out for attention, it’s because THEY PROBABLY NEED IT.

When someone commits suicide, we can mourn.  We can remind ourselves that it’s not our fault that their illness took them from us.  We can support their family and friends, and ask ourselves what we need to do better for the people in our lives to help them through their struggles.

It’s okay to be angry, to be sad, to not understand why someone would leave like that, but it’s not okay to speak irreverently of a human life that was destroyed by their mental illness.

Instead of throwing around words like “selfish” and “waste of life” lets be more understanding, even with the things we don’t understand.

 

Journaling through Poetry and the Importance of Emotion

I’ve always tried to journal and never been very good at it.  I suppose I’ve never felt that my day to day life is very interesting and there are a lot of things in my life that I am more than happy to let fade into the past, rather than recording them onto paper to be burned later.

I mentioned in my last post about poetry that I started a poetry journal when I was 13 years old.  Ever since I read a book that offered the idea of a journal of poems, I have kept one, for nearly ten years.  I draft on paper, on the computer, in the notes section of my phone, and write the final draft by hand in my journal, with a date.  I don’t write poetry habitually, or regularly, I just record my poems when they come.  I have spans of months, and one nearly a year where I didn’t write any new poetry, but in ten years, I have nearly five composition books full.  Poetry is not my form of choice, but it suits the journaling purpose.

I love my poetry journal.  Rather than a traditional journal, keeping track of meaningless details and days and things that I would rather forget, I capture memories and emotions like snapshots in my poems.  When I go back and revisit older journals, I get to feel my memories rather than try to grasp at a faded, grey scale picture, disappearing from my mind.

Emotions are important.  For much of my life, I have always been afraid to share mind, a product of the environment I was raised in.  Instead of vocalizing my feelings, I’ve always written them down.  Even though I’m learning how to express my emotions out loud, it is still so much easier for me to write them down.

My poems often read like letters, addressed sometimes to a specific audience and sometimes to no one or everyone in particular.  I write a lot about my past as a cutter and about living everyday with anxiety and depression and what it’s like being a physical and emotional masochist.  I write about love and friendship, painting pictures with words that don’t come to me except with a pen on paper.

I am a perfectionist, so being able to draft out my emotions in poems and revising the words until my expression if exact is a borderline obsession.  When I tell a person how much they mean to me, I usually write letters and rehearse my words beforehand.  I have a decently large vocabulary and I am meticulous in my word choice.  I don’t like repeating important words, or ones that stand out.  I like variety in my writing, even if it makes it sound pretentious.  I kind of am pretentious.

Writing poetry brings out a certain desperation in me.  In that is the all-consuming need that I have to write, but also the need to express myself personally.  In poems addressed to my boyfriend, I highlight our memories together, the special moments that I never want us to forget because I know that someday we’ll want the reminders so we can cherish them together.  For my best friend, I chronicle the special bond we share.  It is one of those friendships that is difficult to put into words, but I struggle to find a way to explain it anyways.  Poetry seems to be the only way I can capture our unique relationship.

I use my poetry to revisit times when I used to hurt myself, dredging up what I felt at the time.  I want to keep a record of those emotions, to help myself better understand who I am, since my drive for pain is a huge part of me.  Similarly, I document my struggles with depression and social anxiety in my poetry.  There is a lot of frustration in those, since so few people understand what it is like to deal with that special mix of lifelong mental afflictions.  A lot of people have experienced depression in one form or another, but clinical is a different monster and my masochism lends a whole other shade to the spectrum of mental illness.

My drive to write comes from so many places, that desperate need to sort out my emotions, to capture memories, to analyze myself.  I’ve mentioned music as an inspiration for my fiction writing, and it is true of my poetry as well.  The covers of my poetry journals are collections of quotes from songs that have touched me.  Instant inspiration whenever I pick up my journal, a collection of musings from minds other than my own.  Music helps ground me, gives rhythm to my writing.  Music is so heavily tied to emotion, which is where my poetry takes root as well.

So poetry has become my outlet for those things that I have a difficult time saying aloud and for the things that I struggle with on my own.  While novel writing will always be my calling, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing poetry.  I don’t ever plan on seriously publishing any of my poems, but I hate them less and less every day that I write more of them.  It’s a type of journaling that suits me and feels more meaningful to me.  Emotions are an important thing to express and when you are an introverted writer like me, poetry is a good outlet.

 

I Surrendered My Heart to I Prevail

Last month, I went to see one of my favorite bands perform live and walked away thinking about a completely different band I had seen for the first time that night.  I Prevail opened for Hollywood Undead and absolutely blew my mind that night.  Not only was their set energetic and ground-shaking, but I took home their EP and kept it on repeat for a week straight.

I Prevail is a Post-Hardcore band out of Detroit, Michigan, featuring a fresh, clean sound both on stage and on their record.  Their name sets a high expectation for their music, when I think of the word “prevail” I think of defeating enemies, conquering castles, and continuing onward in the face of despair.  Their EP “Heart vs. Mind” carries this theme that their name introduces throughout its entirety, breaking down what it means to prevail.

I was a little bit nervous when I first popped in the CD as I drove home from the show and the first track opened with synth.  Now, I don’t have anything against electronic music, but I’ve had experiences with some post hardcore bands that use way too much over produced synth to make their music a little more mainstream-friendly and it doesn’t usually turn out too well.  I Prevail did not do that, thankfully.  They stay dedicated to their melodic, heavy roots, throwing in some synth, piano, and strings to accent a well rounded sound.

The second track on the EP “Crossroads” spoke to me on an intimate level, which is what music is supposed to do.  At first, I expected it to be just another cliche “hold on, it gets better” song that is a post hardcore staple, but as I listened, I realized it was much more.  “You gotta dig deep and bury all the thoughts, the thoughts that tell you, you’re not good enough…..I always get built up, but broke right back down” are words spoken from the heart of someone who has experienced depression and knows what it feels like, everyday.  When Eric screams his parts, you can feel the truth and experience behind his words.  When Brian sings, it is almost like he is trying to reach out to his bandmate.  The dual songwriting on this track works brilliantly and brings a freshness to a topic that sometimes seems overdone.

“Love, Lust, and Liars” and “The Enemy” were both released as singles before I Prevail debuted their EP and both are a perfect representation of the theme I introduced earlier.  “Love, Lust and Liars” is a great twist on the usual sad breakup song, instead of dwelling on someone who has hurt you, it is a fast paced, heavy hitting song that is a big “fuck you” to the person who destroyed this relationship.  Alternatively, “The Enemy” is a campaign against a person who has never done anything good for our heroes.  “Face Your Demons” is another story in this theme, taking prevailing to another level: revenge.  Sometimes, moving on requires destroying someone else.  Here our heroes destroy an evil person who hurt someone close to them, making sure their name is sullied for all time.

This EP is eight songs of unforgiving, relentless soul-felt music that doesn’t slow down for a second, even when we get to I Prevail’s ballad of a love song.

Once again, these guys show us a different side to something that could have turned out cliched.  Often we get the token love song on an album, slower, something that may appeal to listeners outside of the metal scene and that’s all well and good.  After a run of hard hitting metal tracks, I Prevail brings us an acoustic ballad about unrequited love.  The weakness, it seems, in every hero, except here they do not win the girl.  In a string of songs that talk about victory and overcoming everything in your path, this track shakes up the theme a little bit, showing us that even a warrior loses some battles.  But the EP picks right back up again for the end, bringing us another heavy song before they close out with the cover song that got I Prevail a lot of the spotlight they are seeing today.

Normally, I wouldn’t go through the effort of talking about a cover song, but I Prevail’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” is such a great cover that I have to touch on it.  I’ve been a big fan of the Pop Goes Punk albums for a while now and a distressing trend I have noticed in the later editions is how unoriginal a lot of the covers are.  Often they end up sounding just like a guy singing a song that a girl originally did, not a lot is changed musically, melodically, if anything is changed at all.  I Prevail do a number on Taylor Swift’s popular song, you can recognize the familiar melody, but Brian takes it out of Swift’s register and Eric’s screams, especially in the bridge, bring a completely different element to the song lyrically.  The rest of the band turn the pop song into a metal song and it is delightful.

I will not hesitate to say that I am stoked for a full length album from these guys.  I cannot wait to see what they have to add to their theme that they have delivered on so far.  I’m a sucker for well written lyrics, balanced cleans and screams, and a heavy sound and I Prevail delivered all of those things and more.

Not the Kind of Rodeo You Were Expecting, Was It?

The Nixon Rodeo is a local Spokane band that caught my interest three years ago, when out of the blue, I happened to miss them opening at Rock Hard at the Park, but ended up running into their drummer, Ethan Harrison, at a Shari’s in Spokane Valley after the show.  I remember having a short conversation with him that ended with him running out to his car to grab their debut album “Made To Bleed” to give to me.  That album has not left my car since and every chance I’ve had, I’ve gone to see them live.  I have been addicted ever since.

It was my pleasure last weekend to not only watch them play one, but two, two hour sets to celebrate the release of their new album “Relentless” and snag a copy.  I’d been streaming it on Spotify the week previous and listened to it a few times in the car with my boyfriend, but I was itching to get the CD in my car on repeat.  So I listened to it eight times in one day and here I am, writing a review on what is easily my favorite album of the year.

The Nixon Rodeo has always been a heady blend of punk, alt-rock, metal, and post hardcore that can satisfy the heart of any rock and roll fan and they delivered all of that and more with the new record.  The quiet intro sparked with gunfire and distant sirens is reminiscent of Metallica’s “One” and brings the same sense of anticipation that doesn’t quite wholly prepare you for what you are about to experience.  In what is arguably a second intro, Ethan jumps in and introduces The Nixon Rodeo, because why the heck not introduce yourself on your own record.  His opening screams “Raise the bar” set the tone for the entire album.  The Nixon Rodeo definitely raised the bar.

They open with the single “Hesitation’s an Indication” that showcases all that The Nixon Rodeo has to offer: Brent’s incredible, diverse, vocal range, Josh shredding out a classically rock and roll guitar solo, iconic punk rock gang vocals lending an anthem-like feel and Ethan’s powerful screams lacing the track with a hardcore vibe.  Diving right into their fourth track with another single “Now you Got My Attention” we are immediately assaulted with the same level of vocal strength and complex lyrics.

The Rodeo brings a mixture of cleans and screams that are often at odds with each other, creating a dichotomy that singles out certain parts of the lyrics.  Definitely my favorite example is in “Back and Forth” where during the pre-chorus, Brent sings “I don’t wanna talk” and Ethan cuts in screaming “I wanna talk!” and takes over.  This primes the way for Ethan’s spoken part after the chorus and makes you stand up and pay attention.  To counter that, the two vocalists also use each other as a balance for their melodies, lining up cleans and screams in perfect execution.

“Uncontrollable” delivers the tried and true anthem for all of those who have experienced the pressure of trying to be someone that they are not.  The Nixon Rodeo throws us their take on this often overused cliche and delivers a fresh stance that I credit to great writing.  A vein that runs through all of the Rodeo’s lyrics is rhyme, which usually sounds awful and forced, but here adds a poetic structure that makes what simply could have been a good song, a great song.  For instance:
“And now we’re still here waiting
Understating, illustrating
A tragic ending to a fucked up song
I hope everyone will sing along”
There are definitely incomplete or off rhymes that don’t match up with some of the more complete rhymes and jar the ear a bit, but for the most part the songwriting is solid and poetically executed.

What I enjoyed most about this album was how every song was different.  Different lyrically, musically, structurally.  Some tracks were resoundingly metal, like “Hesitation,” “Found ME In Team” and “Now You’ve Got My Attention.”  There was a slow, pop punk ballad, “Scandal” and some classic rock and roll tracks, “Back and Forth,” “Uncontrollable” and their cover of “Billie Jean.”  Then, in absolute Rodeo style, they brought in a completely unique and great element to the track “Now or Never,” the inclusion of the “Rodeo” chant.   The battle cry of The Nixon Rodeo’s fans.  The song itself is about the fans and the appropriateness of including the chant lent an intimate feeling to the song that could have been accomplished no other way.  They round out the album by including a fast paced angst-y punk song “Keep Me Awake” and another slow, beautiful ballad in “A Chance to Tell You.”

It is worth mentioning that this is a talented group of guys who not only recorded songs on this record playing more than one instrument, but they switch it up on stage too. Travis jumps on drums for Ethan during the more scream-heavy songs and I’ve seen Brent take over the bass, though they like to bring up guest musicians to help out during these songs as well.  Some bands can hardly pull off one sound live, let alone a mix of different genres, but The Nixon Rodeo does it all.  Their unique musicality isn’t lost during the live set and they are one of the most fun, high-energy bands I’ve seen perform.  They sound clean and well-rehearsed, something I’ve learned to appreciate from a live band.  Two nights, two hours, back to back and I couldn’t have been more impressed.

I could sit here and dissect every song on this album and explain exactly how each part makes the whole a great record, but I will refrain from spilling my guts on the topic.  The Nixon Rodeo’s third album, “Relentless” is for those of you who love rock music.  The diversity of the songs, the original lyrical content, and ability to do each of these songs justice live, two nights, back to back, is what makes “Relentless,” and The Nixon Rodeo, outstanding.

Music as my Muse

Let me attempt to paint a picture and some sound with words here for a moment.

The venue was sold out. I got there fifteen minutes after the doors had opened and stood in line around the entire block for a half hour before getting in. The place was packed, the line for the merch table was so long it was getting lost in the crowd eagerly waiting for the show to begin. The first band started and I was at the back of the crowd, waiting in line. I like to get my merch at the beginning of the show because I’m small and my size sells out quickly.

Within thirty seconds of their performance, the floor was shaking from I Prevail telling the crowd to jump. I couldn’t help but bob along while I stood in line and wished I was in the middle of that crowd. I made my purchase and shoved my way into the crush of people just in time to participate in a wall of death at the start of the second song that opened up a pit that spanned half of the floor. It was exhilarating, my blood was rushing, the music shook me.

By the time the band I came to see began to play my throat was nearly raw from screaming support to the first band, I was exhausted from bashing my face on someone else’s head during the second band’s set and my legs were shaking from dancing and jumping. But I summoned the last of my strength and sang my heart out for Hollywood Undead because I’m that fan who knows every word to every song.

I get so much shit for the music I listen to and have for as long as I can remember, from everyone: parents, friends, coworkers, strangers. I’m so used to it that it surprises me to meet new people who understand what I feel. And I feel so much.

Last night, my heart felt like it was falling out of my throat with every word that I sang and my blood was pumping so hard it felt like my veins might burst. Art is meant to make you feel and I felt so strong last night. Music is art.

Music has inspired me for so long that I can hardly separate song from my writing. I listen to music when I write, as I write this, I’m listening to Shinedown’s new album “Threat to Survival.” Last night as I drove home from the show, high off of adrenaline, I listened to my newly purchased copy of I Prevail’s debut EP “Heart Vs. Mind” on repeat for two hours and I drafted this blog entry in my head and in the notes section of my phone. I have a specific playlist built for the first novel I wrote and I still rely on that playlist occasionally when I need support from the past to write something new.

It is a thing that is difficult to put into words because music is only partially words and only that if you listen to music with words, but I write hoping that you will understand, if only just a little.

So much emotion goes into music, you can feel it in every instrument, in every word that is sang and the way it is sung. When I write, I try to encompass the kind of emotion that music does. Obviously with writing, I can only take the single element of words and only mimic the rhythm and voice of instruments, but damn do I try my hardest.

I’ve been told that my prose reads a lot like poetry and not one of my teachers were ever surprised to learn that I write poetry as well. Poems are similar to lyrics in the sense that every word counts a lot more, since there are less of them and often times poetry is read with music accompanying it. You’ll also hear words like rhythm, cadence, and beat used to describe poetry, relating it to music. Music uses words and words can have a sort of musicality to them. This is why I draw so much inspiration from music.

Writing takes a lot of emotion, ask any writer. It sucks a piece of your soul out through your fingertips. The act of creating is very emotional and music both drives me to express that emotion and helps me to control the feelings. It is a very magical thing.

I’m not completely certain I will ever be able to truly explain just how much music has impacted my life, but here I hope that I was able to show you just a little of what it has done for me. My writing would not be where it is now if not for the music that fuels me to continue onward and inspire me with new rhythm in my work.

It is my dearest, most selfish hope that my writing becomes the soundtrack to someone’s life, that my poetry is the music reflected in their eyes. The day my novel becomes the song that saved someone’s life will be the day that I have accomplished my goal.

Writing is my Therapy: A Creative Mind on Depression

I’ve been having a very difficult time coming up with a topic to add to my blog, hence why it has been so long since I posted last.  Part of the reason is due to the mental struggles I have been dealing with in an inflated way in the last few months.  So here I am.

I live with depression and social anxiety on a daily basis.  I have chosen not to medicate myself and have struggled with different coping mechanisms throughout my life.  The anxiety is something I tend to by being aware of my social limits and balancing that with work, family time, friend time and a plethora of alone time.  The depression is a little more tricky.  It is something that is difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it and even harder to describe to those who have, but have moved on from it.  My depression is not a seasonal thing, though it gets worse in the winter months, and it is not a temporary thing.  I have dealt with it all of my life and operate based on the assumption that it is never going away.  To say that depression hits you like a wave is true, yet also untrue.  Sometimes it does and I wake up with a migraine, unable to get out of bed.  Other days I wake up feeling 100% happy and normal, but as the day wears on, the smile fades and my texts become shorter and less vibrant and by two in the morning I am in tears, psychoanalyzing myself in the shower.

Writing has always been one of the things that helps pull me away from the all-consuming mire of depression.  Once again, however, there is an unfortunate flip side as depression also makes it extremely difficult for me to write.

That cycle is what I have been struggling with for the past few months.  I am desperately working on a novel that I would love to have a rough draft of completed by November, but each day that I stare at my computer screen and compose line after line of poetry about the shaking in my hands and the aching for a razor blade on my skin, I feel like I am further and further from that goal.

On one hand, I’m writing some pretty interesting poetry that is helping me to come to terms with the mental illness I am constantly at war with.  On the other hand, I have a story inside of me that is screaming to be let out and my overwhelming lack of motivation and self loathing has me locked up in such a way that only certain words will come out, but not the ones I’m looking for.

Countless studies have been done on the correlation between depression and artists of any type, I knew I was doomed the moment I picked up a pen and the sleepless nights started.  It is the curse of the intelligent to suffer from insomnia, and in turn, depression, which also causes sleeplessness and therein the cycle begins.

Which brings me here to why I am writing this post about my specific brand of mental illness, for there are many, but I am only plagued with a few and it seems that my anxiety and depression feed off of one another.  My writing is the reason why I choose not to medicate.  The creative part of me is, most days, the one thing that keeps me going, whether I have writer’s block or not.  I know I have stories in my head that need to be written down, need to be told and they won’t be if I end my life because I can’t take the pain anymore.  Taking medication to calm the storm in my head could affect my writing in a huge way and I am not willing to risk that.  I’ve made it 23 years without medicine to keep me from killing myself, I can only hope that my writing can keep me afloat another 23 more.

My illness and my experiences are the things that drive me to write.  I know I mentioned it in my first blog post, but it bears repeating.  I write for the ones who feel alone, who don’t have anywhere else to go so they eat their lunch in the library among the books and end up picking one up that changes their life.  I know those people exist because that happened to me.  I have so many books on my list now that have helped me discover what I am and kept me going through things that would have killed a lot of people.  I am here because of those worlds I was able to escape to and I am here to carry on that torch.  I write stories about broken people and magic that heals them, stories about lost boys and girls who find their place in the world in the last places they expect, stories of young love and old love, shattered dreams and dead end roads that find new life, because if I haven’t found a reason good enough to end it yet, then you can continue on too.

They say it gets better and I hope to hell that it does, but for now I’ll keep on writing because no matter how much it hurts, I’m too stubborn to give up.

Poetry is not my strong point

It has been a while since my last post and there are many excuses I could share, but none would do me any favors.  So I will tell you what I HAVE been doing:  writing poetry, a LOT of poetry.

Now, fiction is definitely my form of choice and absolutely my stronger medium, but I have always written poetry.  Every since I was seven and wanted so badly to grow up and be a singer, I have written terrible, horrifying lyrics and poems.  In the eighth grade we had to write a few poems for class so I was reading a lot of poetry and picking up books from the public library.  One of those books was a collection focused towards young adults and suggested that aspiring poets keep a journal of all of their poetry.  So I began a poetry journal.

Since I was 13 years old, I have filled four composition books full of crap and the occasional not-so-crap poems, (along with two notebooks of “songs” a friend and I wrote together in middle school).  I’m working on my fifth and I am now 23 years old.  Ten years later and I’m a fiction writer who has all of this random poetry floating around up my sleeve.  In the last three years I have not written nearly as much poetry as the years previously and I believe that is because I have been focusing more seriously on my fiction as a product of going to school for writing.

Writing poetry has always been something that I have taken less seriously because for me it has always been about getting my emotions out.  My poetry is very egocentric and the majority of it is feeling ripped directly from my chest.  Every once in a while I will take on characters and write something, but take a peek into my poetry journals and you will learn very much about Tara at many points in her teenage years.

Once I started going to school for writing, oh, about four years ago now, I learned to appreciate really good poetry.  And I learned what really good poetry actually was.  I came to the realization that the drivel I had written for all of my teenage life was complete trash.  So my poetry writing slowed down and I focused on the writing that I felt I was truly good at:  fiction.

Now when I pen a poem, I judge myself very harshly and my writing process is immensely different from when I first began.  As a teenager, I would break out my journal every time I had an idea and start letting stuff appear on paper.  I have meticulously named and dated everything and kept a table of contents at the front of every journal so I could reference previous works because I am organized after a fashion.  Now I rarely break out my journal to write something into it unless it has gone through several drafts.

My poetry has evolved into a different monster than what it used to be.  Rather than puking emotion, it is more controlled and systematic.  I still very much use my poems as an inner outlet that isn’t through another character’s lens, but I have very much developed a character of myself.  The voice behind the poems is still me, but I have changed much and like I said, I actually edit things now.  I will randomly get a few lines of an idea, or an emotion I describe perfectly to myself in my head, often while I am driving, and punch it into the notes in my phone.  Once I find some time, I revisit the lines and either write more or combine them with another few lines floating around in my notes.  Once I have something that I think is near complete, I break out my notebook that I jot down things too long to write on my phone.  I prefer handwriting to anything typed above all else so I write it all out by hand, edit and change words as I go, add more in, take some out, rearrange verses.

Art is supposed to make you feel something.  My poetry is meant for me and perhaps a select few people that I write things for.  I don’t really write for an audience other than myself, mostly because my poetry is still about me trying to figure out and put a name to emotions.  But I’ve been working on a lot of this last month and am vain enough that I feel alright posting a bit of it here today. Forgive me for not being able to read it aloud to you, as poetry is meant to be enjoyed.

This poem is something I wrote for someone who was and is still very dear to me, one of my absolute closest friends.

Part II:  The Return

To everyone, it’s complicated, strange.
To us, it is the only thing simple in our entire lives,
The easiest to describe,
The only part that we can put words to.

In the darkness we find each other
Because the shadows are where we belong.
We don’t need light to see one another;
Our gazes reach places that can’t be described in color.

If you breathe in, I breathe out:
The two of us make one machine,
One intellect, one mimic of a soul.

Others will come between us
So we have evolved to survive at half capacity,
But the silver chain that binds us,
It drags us, pulls us back to each other.
No matter the distance between
Or the time that has passed.

Our existence is one blasphemous non tradition after another;
Twins in separate bodies, born too far apart in time for acceptance.
Yet we found one another in the blackness
And instead of pulling each other out, we have stayed.

We have our ebon castle
Crawling with vines and thorns.
A single throne to overlook it all
For we are both King of this land.

And when one leaves, the other awaits their return;
For inevitability is the link that has us bound.
Willing victims in a world where all we have always had is each other.
How we see us is the only thing that truly matters.