How I Wrote That

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for about a year, but I never knew how to present it. Until now. I’m going to pull back the curtain that covers my mind and reveal to you how I write certain posts. Specifically, my poems.

I don’t know if this is going to be a new blogging series, or just a one off. We’ll see how it goes.

Poetry, for me, is a way to say things that I don’t really want to say, but need to. It gives me the chance to talk in metaphors and riddles and codes, so I know what I’m saying while my readers might not.

Each poem has more details in all of them than you could probably imagine. I don’t write a poem unless it means something to me. I have to feel it when I write it.

So for this post, I’m going to tell you how I wrote one of my recent poems, Show.

Essentially, I’m going to break down the meaning of it, line by line, and let you in on things that were going through my mind as I wrote it. I hope this is interesting.

Let’s start.

For starters, the title (Show) is a double meaning. Not only does it mean putting on a performance, but it’s also like, “Hey, I’ll show you what it’s like.” And that leads into the overall meaning of the poem which is: living in someone else’s shoes.

I didn’t think of the title of the poem until I was almost done writing it. That happens most of the time. The idea for the poem came when the following words randomly popped into my head, one day.

“They don’t know what it feels like, how could they possibly know?”

There have been many times in my life where I see someone go through something, or experience certain emotions, and I’m not able to relate to them. I can’t see things from their perspective.

And then, it could be years later, I find myself in their shoes – living through what they lived through. I’m finally able to see what they saw, and feel how they felt.

Alright, let’s break down each line. Each stanza has nine lines. I didn’t plan that ahead of time. I didn’t even know if I’d break the poem up into stanzas. Every stylistic decision I make is while I’m writing it.

Your shoes don’t fit quite like I thought they would
Now that I’m in your shoes, it’s not what I expected.
your backpack weighs me down more than I knew it could
The things you carry with you are heavier than I thought.
I gag at your clothes
Your style is not my own; I don’t want to be in your clothes, living your life, anymore.
I blow my nose
I just needed something that rhymed with “clothes”, to set up my next line.
the theatre fills up rows upon rows
This gives the idea that there are always people watching and judging us. Also, “rows” rhymes with “nose”.
and I wish I could take this off
I wish I could shed myself of this costume (someone else’s clothes), so I don’t have to feel how they feel.
burn it to shreds without hearing a scoff
This furthers my point with another rhyme.
they don’t know what it feels like
how could they possibly know
And there are the two lines that sparked this poem. They appear in every stanza.

so take your clothes – here
I don’t want them anywhere near
This is the idea that I thought the grass was greener, but it wasn’t, and I don’t want it anymore. I want to return it.
and take your shoes
Not wanting to live in someone else’s shoes.
they did not answer my clues
“Clues” in the sense that my perception was wrong.
it was like walking on screws
It was harder than I thought.
one size fits all
This line relates back to “clothes” and the idea that we are all the same, but entirely different.
only works in the fall
I needed something that rhymed with “all”. Also, what do people wear in the fall? Sweaters/hoodies. That’s as close to “one size fits all” as you can get. I thought it was clever.
they don’t know what it feels like
how could they possibly know
Reiterate the theme.

This next stanza is a change of perspective. It’s me looking inward.

is today the day it all catches up
This line came about because, at the time of this poem, I wasn’t getting many hours of sleep – my own fault. Exhaustion was building up and this line is me wondering if that was the day the exhaustion would take over.
the hours lost were hours gained
I lost hours during the day, but gained hours during the night. Make sense?
carry the one and nothing remained
This could be a metaphor for anything. But really, I just wanted to make a math joke and needed something that rhymed with “gained”.
wake up with muscles strained
I was waking up with my arms asleep and my back sore.
chess pieces were David Blaine’d
In this instance, “chess pieces” are people. David Blaine does magic. Put them together, and you have people disappearing. This goes back to the packed theatre in stanza one, but now I don’t want them there. I don’t want them to see.
because when you appear to disappear
David Blaine does illusions. If I appear to disappear, the audience has nothing to see.
only one side is overcome with fear
The audience would be overcome with fear.
but they don’t know what it feels like
how could they possibly know
I added “but” to this because it worked with the flow of this stanza better.

I feel like people are still going to be confused at this point, even after I’ve explained three stanzas. Oh well. It makes perfect sense to me.

so tie your shoes tight if they don’t fit right
Goes back to the idea of putting myself in someone else’s shoes and being uncomfortable.
turn the world upside down
Change your perspective.
catch your smile become a frown
What if happiness all of a sudden turned to sadness?
would you look at the sad clown
Sad clowns still make jokes…
words lie and faces lie beneath
…but what they say may not be how they feel. “Faces lie beneath” is the person we are, beneath our facade – just like clowns are someone else beneath their mask.
the sun deserves to see teeth
We should smile more.
but they don’t know what it feels like
how could they possibly know
Reiterate the theme, but don’t end the poem with it. Oh, and “they” refers to the “crowd” – people judging us.
the theatre reeks of popcorn
There will always be people who watch what you do. The fact that they brought popcorn, means they aren’t leaving any time soon. So get used to a crowd always watching. 
time for another show.
As I said before, this alludes to putting on a performance to convince others you’re something you’re not. And once you do that and someone lives life in your shoes, they will see it – you will “show” that part of you to them.

Did that make any sense?

This poem took about two hours to write, but when I was writing it, it felt like ten minutes. Every poem feels that way for me. I get so into it and as complicated as this poem might appear, the words came out quite effortlessly.

I always know that I’ve written a meaningful poem if I read it afterwards and feel like crying, or actually cry. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sometimes a tear or seventeen will flow as I’m writing it.

In a strange way that makes me feel better. It lets me know that these are words and thoughts I no longer need to carry with me.

Soooo much cheese in this post. Should’ve brought crackers.

Alright, that’s it. Did you guys like this? Should I do more “How I Wrote That” posts? (Doesn’t mean I will). Let me know. 

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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41 Responses to How I Wrote That

  1. Jess says:

    You’re a genius.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, I have an awful, terrible, horrible confession to make. I’m not really a fan of poetry. This, however, was fascinating. I’m always intrigued by how writers write, what makes them tick, what turns them on. I get emotional when I write, too, and I can’t write about something I don’t care about. It feels fake to me. Good post. Yes, to more of how you write!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      Awesome! To be honest with you, I couldn’t stand poetry either. I thought it was hokey. Then I started doing it and realized it was a different, more mysterious way for me to present words, and I liked it. Thank you for this!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Write more, it was very interesting:) to see it from the inside

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rebbit7 says:

    I appreciate how you showed us how your poems turn out. It’s totally up to you if you decide to continue with this “How I Wrote That” series, but don’t feel it’s an obligation for the readers. In fact, from what I’ve learned in poetry class back in college, it’s a matter of letting the poem speak for itself, allowing for multiple interpretations which in the end make it more interesting than the actual intent of the poet. Whether the poet’s intent gets interpreted or not, it makes for great discussions. Any case, thanks for the post; it was enlightening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the honest feedback! Yeah, up until now I always told myself that I wouldn’t explain my poems because my meaning will probably be different than everyone who reads it. I thought I’d give it a try for this poem though. If I were to do it again, I don’t know which poem I would explain because I’d like to keep most of them unknown.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Squid says:

    This was really cool, and I would like to see more of these poetry breakdowns. (Rats, now I have KJ-52 song stuck in my head… But, since rap is like a poem, written down to show ’em, I guess it works.)
    Plus, the 17 tears was subconsciously written because you remembered me telling you that my favorite number was 17, right? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aspiring Writer 🙇 says:

    This was quite interesting actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Was fun to peek behind the curtain here. You’re right, there were several times I had a different perception about what you were going for, (i.e.chess pieces were David Blaine’d – thought you were implying that the chess pieces became people) but this is part of what makes good poetry great right?
    Our tastes are all different even though the flavor is still the same…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Quinn says:

    Rather than a poem breakdown I think I’m more curious as to the situation or person that prompted the poem in the first place… But I understand that you probably don’t want to share that, which is exactly why you wrote a poem, and not a post, in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barb Knowles says:

    I prefer you not breaking them down. It was interesting, but I like poetry to speak to me and to take from poems that which resonates with me. Perhaps it is exactly what you mean, but perhaps I see a different layer, if that makes sense. Or a layer differently. I’m the same with art work and music. Plus, I feel there is still more of you being revealed within your poems. I like the mystery of discovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I think this is a one off thing. I like the mystery behind it too much. Plus even though I explained the poem, I feel like there’s so much more to it that I can’t put into words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        That’s exactly what I thought! I don’t write poetry (I’m not enough of a wordsmith), but it was really interesting to me that the stanza’s and lines are natural and you don’t think, now what’s one more line I could use?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Ariel Lynn says:

    Your explanations make the poem much more powerful & meaningful to me. I hope you continue to do posts like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Laura says:

    It’s always cool to get a writer’s behind the scenes perspective — especially on poetry, since interpreting it can be so tricky. Thanks for this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well. this was certainly a detour. Here I thought the explanation of how you arrived at the words for your poem “Show” was going to be something a little more complicated. Like the ideas came to you after an all night drinking binge—and some pizza. After all, who can write real poetry without a slice or two of pizza? I can see how wearing someone else’s shoes could happen after an all night drinking binge and the whole idea of not discovering what it was like to walk in their shoes, until some time later—you know, like after the alcohol wore off. Now that blowing my nose part which rhymes with rows and that stands for clothes is pretty cool, but then I come from the roses are red and violets are blue school of poetry—to which I can honestly say there is no such school because I just made that one up. Now where was I… oh yeah, and living in someone else’s shoes is just plain impossible Paul. Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean, not if you count that old woman who lived in a shoe. But I’ve heard it said that she’s a compulsive liar and has never been able to prove that in court. Besides be honest, don’t you think that if you lived in a shoe you’d be a little uncomfortable too, I know I would! Now admit it, I think what really happened here was you misspelled shoe as show and you felt you owed us an explanation which didn’t make any sense just so you could through us all off the track. Fortunately, none of us were on a track at the time, and don’t you think you’re just a little too obsessed with shoes right now? Whoa, it’s 2 AM and they say the bar is gonna close, guess I better go home. Maybe we better discuss your poetry a little bit later Paul. Like maybe when you’re sober and I haven’t had so much pizza (HICCUP!) 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      I have no clue how you come up with these comments, Paul, but they get better every time. Haha the old woman who lives in a shoe must have problems cleaning the driveway in the winter. She doesn’t even have boots! You’re right though, poetry can’t be written on an empty stomach and pizza is always my food of choice.

      Like

      • Thank you, Paul. Yep, neighbors warned the old woman in a shoe to invest in a good pair of galoshes as winter was coming. But did she listen? Nope. As for my great comments, I usually find my best source for these kind of responses to be Colonel Mustard… usually in the library… with a smoking revolver… and a candlestick, a rope, a wrench, a dagger, and a lead pipe —though god knows why? I can only reason that he must be some sort of gunsmith who hasn’t paid his utility bill in a while. Anyway I figure he lights the candles on his chandelier and then will hoist it aloft with the help of his rope, and tightens it into place with the help of his wrench. This lights up the library. But I do have to admit, why he has a dagger really has me stumped? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Haha I think the dagger is for his wife to use to point at things while he puts the chandelier in place.

        Like

      • Yes, his wife, Ms Scarlet, runs a very tight ship. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  13. “Poetry, for me, is a way to say things that I don’t really want to say, but need to.” Yes, yes, yes, YES. This is quite a quotable statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Little Rants says:

    You are freaking brilliant, you. Yes, do more of these posts!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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