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Write about the last time you left your comfort zone.

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Hmm. This one is kind of hard to answer? The ongoing pandemic has done a number on my sense of time and space as I’m sure it has done to yours. When I first sat down to ponder this, any anecdote I could pull from the hamster wheel powering the memory banks in my brain would immediately be useless as it would’ve taken place around 2019.

So I’d like to share something taking place shortly.

The City of Las Vegas offers seasonal art classes at a few community centers around town: dance, instrument instruction, painting, and the like. The closest one to me happens to host a poetry class. It will start in a few weeks, and I signed up to attend. I swore to take the course last semester, but my work schedule did not lend itself to it. Now that it’s changed again, I’m ready to dive in.

We’re meant to write and share our work with our classmates, which is always a butthole-clenching event for me. I’m genuinely afraid that they’ll minimize my work and, by extension, diminish my inner light as a writer. I’m very much trying to unlearn that aspect of myself.

I thought grad school would drum that out of me, but I got the distinct feeling that people conflated my work with me as an insanely quiet and introverted person. So I sat for short fiction. I wasn’t writing anything meant to be me or about me. Yes, I may pull characteristics from my real life, and it shows up on the page, but that’s as far as it goes. I write cinematic absurdist fiction; try explaining that to folks.

I have no regrets about my degree. I didn’t come from a “writing is a legitimate job” culture. I grew up in a musical family in an agricultural town. I had no writing mentors; I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But writing is something that I need to do. Period. I knew that I needed to hear the ins and outs and ups and downs from professional writers, including many of my classmates who had scores of publishing credits to their name before the program even started. I learned a lot about the industry.

It’s taken me a minute to catch my bearings as far as throwing my work out into the world. I plan to change that in 2022, and I feel confident that the poetry class will help me do that. Bloganuary has been a great inspiration to me thus far. I miss blogging like this.

laurel

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This tiny — but mighty — podcast celebrates the oral delivery of the written word. My goal is to showcase emerging voices representing their communities and chat with industry folks to show us how to break through and become published poets and authors.

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