New Poem on The Maynard

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Hello, friends! My weekly posts are becoming less weekly and more sporadic. This is partly because I’m feeling I have less to say here, and partly because I’m feeling like when I do have writing time, I want to be completely focused on writing new poems, revising old poems, and sending them out to journals. To that end, I’ve decided that I’ll only update here as a way to give you writing news: when I’ve got a new poem being published or if I’m going to be reading in public somewhere.

And on that note, I’m so pleased to be in the Fall issue of The Maynard! You can read my poem, Birdwatching, here. There’s also a recording of me reading it; it’s my first experience doing that. I hope you enjoy it!

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Purpose and Clarity

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Hello, friends. It’s been a few weeks; the past month has been a marathon for me and my family, but we’ve crossed the finish line and now we’re trying to regain our footing and establish some routine. The farmer’s market is winding down and the brilliant golden leaves are beginning to fall from the birch and aspen. Last night I saw an arctic hare in our yard, its ears and paws already snowy white; the season is changing fast.

School is back in and I’m back to my weekly writing dates with myself. I realized, though, that I wasn’t protecting this time firmly enough before. When I was doing this back in the late winter and spring, I would schedule appointments for hair cuts or a massage, or long, leisurely lunch dates with my girlfriends. I feel a clearer sense of purpose, now, and I realize that those things, while important, have to be scheduled outside of this writing time. This writing time is mine, and it is sacred and precious and if I want to take myself seriously as a writer and poet–and I do–then I have to treat this like my job.

It’s good to feel this clarity, and also scary. I still struggle to tell people I write; even harder to tell them I write *gulp* poetry! But I turned 34 earlier this week, and I’ve decided it’s time to stop dancing around the edges of this thing. I am so grateful to be in a position to be able to really focus on my poetry: my partner is incredibly supportive and keeps telling me “if you want to write, then just write!”; our business makes it possible for me to choose not to work outside of the home; my kids are gaining independence.

It all comes down to me. That’s the hard part, I suppose.

I’m currently doing a revision course called Polish Your Poetry and Prose, with a wonderful editor from Room Magazine, Rachel Thompson, via her site We Are Lit Writers. I recently learned that one of my poems will be published in an anthology about sexual assault, through the University of Regina Press, and that my work has been shortlisted for publication at The Maynard. These things add up, and convince me that I can do this. That I am doing this.

This year I want to finish my chapbook about mothering and PPD in the bush, and begin trying to get it published. This year, I want to write regularly, no excuses. This year, I want to attend a writer’s conference. This year, I want to do more public readings. This year, I will get a proper author photo and print business cards that say “poet” next to my name.

Mostly, though, I will do the work of writing. Showing up to the page, writing new poems, revising old ones, reading, reading, reading, and submitting.

 

One Poem on Petal Journal

Hi, friends. I don’t much feel like writing anything today. I’m bloated and I can’t figure out why, and the bloat extends to my brain. So foggy.

As luck would have it, though, a poem I wrote and submitted ages ago has finally gone live. I’d be so grateful if you went to check it out! “Going Back” on Petal Journal

Have a lovely weekend!

Caught in a Lie

A few days ago, I was sitting at the bar after my shift (I’ve recently gone back to bartending) and a woman next to me said: “Hi Tara. I read your blog. I really like it.” (Hi, Aubyn!) My immediate reaction was intense discomfort and my usual social awkwardness. I felt pleased and flattered and also naked and embarrassed. I wanted to run home and delete my blog and all my social media accounts. I also wanted to run home and write a new post and Tweet it and share it on Facebook and rocket myself to blog stardom.

It’s a confusing thing.

The day after that, I had a poem go live at Uppagus. It’s a poem I wrote something like 8 months ago. As I re-read it for the first time since it was accepted back in March, I felt similar feelings to when I’d been caught, writer-in-the-wild, at the bar. Intense embarrassment. A touch of shame. I also thought the poem was horrible and overly dramatic and isn’t it fun to beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel bad? And it doesn’t help that my regular writing routine is completely shot. I have no routine.

I sat with these shitty feelings for another day or so, and then a term floated up in my mind that I’ve read about before: “impostor syndrome.” This is exactly what I was experiencing.

From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women. [2]

And of course, my inner-critic is screaming “HA! You are not a high-achieving woman! You don’t even have a book published!” But if that jerk will just shut-up for a moment, I’ll go on.

I think it’s extremely common for women who are Doing Things, Important Things, Passionate Things, to try and sabotage themselves by telling themselves they are undeserving. Maybe it’s a bit of internalized misogyny: unless you’re baking bread and having babies, you are not being a proper woman. Leave the book writing, the masterpiece painting, to the men. If we feel strongly enough that we don’t deserve our successes, that we’re going to be caught as frauds, we might just back down from pursuing our dreams.

This is not to suggest that society as a whole has some deep-seated desire to keep women in the kitchen…but maybe it does. Or it did, and some people still do, and we’re all still suffering the effects of that.

When it comes to this blog, and having someone in real life tell me they read it, I immediately start questioning why I’m writing, what I’m writing…how can I pretend to be an authority on writing and mothering and how they fit together? Well, because I am doing those things, right now. I’m fumbling my way through writing and mothering, recalibrating every day. And as long as I stay true to that, and continue to share that experience, my successes and my many failures (see, gotta take a shot whenever I can) I can’t be a fraud.

The blogging, the poetry, these are my truths. Writing is my passion and I can’t not do it. And each time I have a poem published, or a blog post published, and someone sees me and the little voice inside says: “Delete it all! Give it all up! You’re a fraud!” I have to be stronger and louder and more fierce. I am not a fraud or an impostor. And if you’re a woman, or anyone creating at the margins, and you face those same feelings? I see you. And I’m here to validate you and to remind you that you are not a fraud, either. So make your art. Get it out there any way you can. We need your voice.

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