Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Prodigal Poet Returns

Sooo...I've been a very bad blogger. Seven months have passed since I last updated. What happened? Well, I went through a sort-of devastating loss--of my own making--and I'm just now getting back to the poetry (and blogging!) life. While in Rome last summer, I dropped my external hard drive, which held ALL of my writing, onto the tile floor of our apartment, and it broke. No one, not even the so-called "experts", have been able to retrieve the data. I had no backup. That's right, I was stupid, stupid, stupid. See, before I left for my summer travel to Scotland, Italy, and Turkey, I was busy and distracted, and though the thought occurred to me to "back that shit up", I never did.

When I say ALL my writing was on my external hard drive, I do mean ALL of it: my poetry manuscript, which I'd been working on for four years, and which was getting close to completion; all my poems under construction; all completed poems not part of the manuscript; all my publishing contacts, correspondence, and submission records; and the journal I'd been keeping for four years. In addition, I lost all the photos I had taken in Scotland, and half of the ones I took in Italy. I lost all my teaching materials--syllabi, course outlines, student records, resources, and more. Though I've spent the past seven months rebuilding all my teaching materials (and backing them up regularly!), I'm afraid I'll never get the creative writing or photos back. The IT shop I use here, after working on my external hard drive for two months, was unable to do anything, so they sent it off to the "experts" in Nanjing, who kept it for another month, and came up empty-handed, as well. Some business about needing an exact copy of the disc used in the external hard drive to copy the material to. I don't know...if the FBI can retrieve data off burnt, crushed, drowned hard drives, why can't someone pull some poems and photos off mine? I've still got the drive, and I'm going to bring it to my crack-IT guy/nephew in the U.S. when I go back next winter for a visit. He may not be able to do anything, either, but at least there's still a glimmer of hope.

In the meantime, I've been dealing with a lot of anger over the whole thing. I was pretty mad at the universe for DOING THIS TO ME, but really, I was angry with myself for dropping the drive (I'm such a klutz--always have been), and for not backing up my material in the first place. In fact, I was so disgusted with the whole thing that I just stopped writing. Yes, I have refused to write for seven months. Muse appears, and I turn her away, which is probably some sort of sacrilege, for which I'll probably be punished later, in some other horrifying turn of events. Instead, I turned my creative attentions in other directions--I concentrated on my photography, built a Facebook bohemian community page (almost 6,000 followers, which you can check out, here), went traveling and adventuring, etc. Things have been okay. But there has been a nagging feeling all along, that I need to get on with my writing, get over the anger, and start listening to the muse again.

Poetry doesn't want to leave me alone--it's made that quite clear. Whether it's waking me in the middle of the night with lines begging to be written, or sending me requests for material from editors, or asking me to judge a kids' poetry competition, or surprising me with an acceptance from a long-forgotten submission, or requesting that I write reviews for other poets, or having me help organize a poetry slam at my school (all of which have happened these past seven months), poetry has not given up on me, no matter how much I've shunned it. So, it's time to get back on with it, and start rebuilding my portfolio. I'm looking at it this way: that the loss of the manuscript and other work is an opportunity to start over, and create something even better this time. I've had my hissy fit, given poetry the silent treatment, and now I'm ready to forgive myself. As Hugh White said, "When you make a mistake, don't look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power". 

Wish me luck. I'm going to back up all my material now... 

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