Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, October 04, 2012

October 4: Surprise Me!

Surprise me! I wish you would
change night to day. 
Morning begins
another round of words,
a familiar litany
of aches and groans and 
last night’s doubt:  
Why do I write?
The story first, then comes revision,
that torturing of inspiration with rules,
subject/verb agreement being least and last
or even lost 
in that moment
when my words bring tears.

I knew a writer who burned
two years of work in a single night.   
“Too many voices,” he said. He wanted
to write literature. He wanted fame.
There is no talking about this.
I build a story word by word. Bedrock.
‘Tis enough to face down doubt,
To balance inspiration with craft and discipline.
I make my own morning.
I make my own rules.
I tell stories. I write.

NOTE: This rather harsh poem came from today's OCTPOWRIMO. "Surprise me! Consider those moments you have said, “This is just the way I write poetry” and write differently. Close your eyes and think about the place where rules and inspiration meet." I would have loved to write something more inspirational. All I could think of was e.e.cummings' lovely poems without any capital letters. And those writers I have known who struggle to write at great cost. Who one day simply stop writing. This I can barely imagine. Before I retired, my writing always came between other commitments. Now I have the luxury of mornings and online writing communities of readers and writers. Hooray!

See what others have written for Octpowrimo:


  1. I am going to have to come back to this when I have more time to reread and really digest but wanted to say how much I love your first line and how it works both on its own and as part of the next. I'm not explaining myself well but I guess what I'm trying to articulate is that I liked how your line breaks workedIn this piece at several points throughout...where the meaning one line to the next shifts...and I'll shut up now. Bottom Line I really liked it and will be back to reread.

  2. This hit the spot with me: full of truth.

  3. Oh boy, Beth, this really hit me hard--captures my writing process (especially my fiction writing process) so darn well. The torture, the doubt, the need "to balance inspiration with craft and discipline," and at the end, making your own rules. Great work!