It always feels more like Christmas when the first wrapped gifts show up under the tree. There are no ornaments on our tree right now — just lights and a few ropes of red beads — but the gifts say, Christmas is coming! It’ll be a strange holiday, as I’m sure many Hanukkah celebrations were this year, without the family gatherings. Hopefully, with everyone trying to be part of the solution, instead of part of the Covid problem, we’ll have opportunities to gather in the new year.
In the meantime, we try to carry on. For me, that includes meeting virtually with my local Poetry Circle every month via Zoom. Our December ‘monthly challenge’ was a French poetic form, called a Lai. It required us to write a nine-line poem with a certain rhyming scheme and syllable count. Trying to write in a form like this can feel restrictive. Words need to be chosen carefully and you can’t always write the complete sentence or the full description you wish to share. This makes me think of our experiences during the pandemic. We’re confined. Life feels restricted.
But then, writing within a poetic form can also force you to whittle down your words to the most important ones. No fluff. No excess. You get right to the heart of the matter. And that’s what all this social-distancing and lack of normalcy has done for so many of us this year. It’s made us reflect on what’s most important in our lives — and in the world. We’ve learned some things about ourselves. And we’ve learned to appreciate the little things.
My hope is that each of us takes this holiday or this end-of-year time as an opportunity to reflect and appreciate, and to choose what’s most important going forward.
FYI: Here’s my Lai poem:
Covid Christmas Eve
Carols playing low
Gift-wrap and a bow
Softly falling snow
Christmas lights aglow
How I hope you know
I’m missing you so
Today, I’m grateful for spending this weekend at a virtual writers conference.
Back in the spring, I decided to take a big step (for me) and attend a writers conference. The Hollihock Writers Conference, actually. It was to take place at a hotel on the south shore of Massachusetts in May. Well, you know what else happened last spring, don’t you? So, the conference was pushed to August. But the in-person conference was eventually scrapped, and set up to be virtual instead, at the end of October. So, here we are, and I’m so excited! Thankful for all it has in store. 🙂
No one wants to be rejected, but, as a writer, putting yourself out there inevitably means facing rejection on some level or another. The key is to not take it personally. Not every reader will like everything you write. And that’s ok. Not every publication wants to accept the works you send them. And that’s ok, too. But the best kind of rejection is the kind that includes encouragement, like “the core of a really good poem is here” or “with some polish this will be a solid poem”. It almost takes the sting out of the words “sorry, but your piece is not a good fit for us”. So, you dare to try again. 🙂
Each month, the facilitator of my local library’s Poetry Circle challenges us with a new poetry form to try. This month, we’re to write a Triolet. It’s an eight-line poem with some repeating lines and a few rhyming ones. A good poetry challenge really works the brain and gets the creative juices spritzing! If you want to try one, check out the Writer’s Digest explanation of the rules. Have fun!