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Strength: Long-Distance or Sprint Writing?

During the strength-training I mentioned in my Monday post, I did a maximum weight lift that surprised the instructor.

I power-cleaned one hundred pounds.

Let’s just say, it was a satisfying six weeks.

Unless I’m referring to spring cleaning, I have not power-cleaned since then. I doubt I could now. I’m okay with that. I proved that I could do it once. I don’t need to prove to myself or anyone else that I could do it again. Once was enough.

The same could be said for how writers determine their strengths and weaknesses for a particular genre. I studied a variety of genres in college–fiction, creative nonfiction, short story, magazine writing, news and feature writing, and investigative journalism–but it wasn’t until I took a poetry class my final semester that I discovered that I had found my niche.

Yet, even as I consider myself a poet, I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a novel. Fiction proved to be my most difficult genre to write. So, I wanted to conquer that false notion–because I believed I could do it–that I could write a novel. So, I did. It took seventeen years. But, I did it.

I’ve thought about writing another one. I’ve plotted outlines, created character sketches, and started drafts. I’ve completed quite a bit on a sequel of my first novel. But, it’s not the same as those short bursts that result in a poem. Unlike my love of long-distance running when I was a teenager, I am not a long-distance writer. I am a sprinter. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go back and refine my poetry. But, the initial result is visible, and I can see the beginning and the end. At this point in my life, I think the longest genre I would write would be a short story or a creative nonfiction piece. I simply don’t have the writing stamina or desire to write another novel.

But, maybe in another seventeen years, if several short stories find their way into a collective work that has the feel of a novel? Or if I develop a series of poems akin to Spoon River Anthology or a poetic-prose novel like Ava? Well, then maybe. But, another novel as compared to another 100-pound power-clean? Once was enough.

Categories: Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal

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