Submitted by Sarah Bethany on Sat, 10/07/2017 - 23:05

"October and Feeling Homeless
-- Yet Again."

This week I was told I was
not good enough. That
my writing was imitation, that
I failed to stick the landing.

I think:
in two years
I moved ten times.

In six years
I wrote one million words.

And I wonder where is
the harvest. That plumage
of golden seal and the
wreckage of poison
ivy, ruddy. Beyond:
white sand.

I am walking the beach in Ipswich.
My car is my closet.
Shoes line the car
floor, black ballet flats,
and leather hiking boots. Rubble,
stubble, stone. There
are spaces between my knuckles,
hollow places.

Channels, I hope. But I
am feeling thin, empty,
on the edge of America
and life,
with no home in all I've
Maybe I took a wrong turn,
I think.

Maybe I lived my twenties wrong.
Maybe I wasn't disciplined enough,
wise enough, planted enough.
I cannot eat my million words, I think.
Cannot hold them, love them,
be held by them. I have no

Not even a published book.

I kind of thought that would be the compensation.

That by 30,
I at least would have a solid book in hand.

But when I lived in Ireland,
other side of the ocean,
I wrote: "Can I still be a bird
without any nest? If God's son had no place
to lay his head
in the whole wide world he had created,
can I find rest
in the stories I have made?"

No, nowhere. The stopping is not here,
I think. Creation is ever-
wresting new from old and
stirring changing scouring us
clean to bone. Even when
I publish I won't be able
to sleep on it; can not, will not, use
my book as a pillow,

hard as Jacob's rock.

Because there is no stopping place. No, "This is it;
I created art. I've arrived home." To be an
artist is to never linger long in the
last creation. It will
push you out if you don't leave.
upward. Fast.


Author's age when written

Wrote this a few minutes ago so it's feeling a bit raw and I will probably see so many things to edit tomorrow, but oh well. Here you go. The editor of a literary journal told me this past week, "If you're going to write poetically, you better do it well. You sound like you're imitating good writing." OUCH. So I have feelings to get out hahaha. But I am going to try to keep working, and moving onward!!


Aww girly, don't let them tear you down. You are (and always will be) one of the most talented writers I have ever read. Keep growing! Keep pushing for those dreams! You are original; quirky and unique in the most loveable way. Your rainbow-heart may feel like a sulky blue right now, but I still see its moist tepidity and vibrant light. Please don't lose sight of those of us who look up to and respect you for not only your literary talent, but your literary heart as well.

As for the poem itself (aside from content) it's LOVELY. I adore how you chose to break up each line; it seemed Shakespeareian to me. Plus I loved the Biblical references. <3 this is one that I need to read over again in order to properly savor its beauty. Well done, dear. Well done. <3

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

Thank you for sharing! <3 It's difficult, because writing is so subjective. What makes a good poem? Who gets to define what's good? It's such a solitary experience and something that's so hard to grasp, to explain, to teach. I think I've realized that the most somebody can do to help grow a writer is to foster creativity, and push and encourage them to get better. And I think it's important that you know you've done that for a lot of us here--myself included. I know you're not opening this up as "shower Sarah with a bajillion compliments" time but as I always say (ha), it's true, and I really want you to know that. Your experience was discouraging, but I think it's vital that you drew from that and created this lovely, very personal, very true piece.

You did what all excellent, gracious, spectacular writers do--you managed to pin those whirlwind emotions into concrete language. And that's something, and not everybody can do it--but most of all not everybody can do it the way you do.

The last few stanzas ring with truth. There is no stopping point, probably; we will never be satiated. Our minds will always churn with stories and phrases and language and we will always be searching for a meaningful way to present them.

No, nowhere. The stopping is not here,
I think. Creation is ever-
wresting new from old and
stirring changing scouring us
clean to bone.

Your line breaks are phenomenal in this, by the way. They kept me zipping along the page, while establishing this really succinct rhythm that felt conversational. I also enjoyed the use of colons, especially here-- (was gonna use a colon to precede the excerpt, decided against it)

white sand.

The whole stanza which included the latter was gorgeous, that rich, nature-attuned and ebullient style which I so associate with you, even when the subject matter is a little heavier.

Anyway! Sorry for my novel-length comment. I just had lotsa thoughts! I just think that 'success' can be defined in a multitude of ways, and it's frustrating to try and reach that one definition over and over again, to be waiting to get it over with, really. That may not be the case for you, but I've felt that before. But there are so many ways that one can find gratification in what they've produced. I think the important thing is to be happy with it yourself, to be confident, and the rest will follow.

Okay. All done now. I probably made no sense. Just unleashing a tirade of thoughts! I hope they were maybe a little uplifting, and you may not have needed them, but here they are if you ever do! <3

EDIT: Realized I ended my comment with a special heart the same way as Damaris. That was probably subconscious if not coincidence but either way, double the love!

Girls, girls, girls!!!!!!!! I don't even know how to adequately respond. You came in like little angels and lifted my spirits right when I needed it! I was a nervous wreck to meet my professor outside of class this week (she was kind enough to take an hour out of her time to talk to me) but she actually said some REALLY encouraging things. She pulled up my draft on her computer and showed me how to cut and pace to give better sequencing. She offered me so much insight, and the most relieving thing she said was that the things I need to learn (mostly structure) can be taught to me....and the things that can't be taught I already know. (Which is the same for all of us writers here! We just need to reminded of it.) So it was so relieving and reassuring. I have never taken a writing class before so to have an authority figure say I'm passable is a huge weight off my shoulders.

I love and appreciate you all so much -- what would I do without your votes of confidence, your passionate investment in good literature, your wisdom, your tender compassion?? You girls are the BEST. And I know even more how awesome you are because I have now been in live critiques. Some people don't know how to be constructive at all.

So now I kind of feel like this poem is pointless, because the professor clarified her judgments on my piece and softened her advice with a lot of positive feedback... but I guess it still encapsulates a generic fear of not being good enough. Right now I'm coasting on an after-glow of my meeting, but I'm sure that the same old fear will rear its ugly head again. So thank you all, SO so much, for being there for me <3 (old-timey heart)

Wow, I liked this alot. The comparisons you drew and mentioning Jesus and Jacob. You are a good writer. I loved the ending. Keeping forward.
"To be an
artist is to never linger long in the
last creation."

The part of whether you wasted your twenties or wasn't enough also tugged my heartstrings. :)

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson