Is angst-free writing ever any good?

Earlier this year, whilst sitting in a waiting room after arriving much too early for a hospital appointment, I had just begun to read my newly purchased issue of a writing magazine when details of a mini-poetry competition caught my eye.  I have never entered a poetry competition, in fact I have not entered any kind of creative writing competition since I left school, but  writing “8 lines incorporating foreign words and phrases”  seemed within my capabilities so I pulled out a pen and the appointment letter from my bag and  less than five minutes later I had written the following lines on the back of the envelope.

Une Visite To The Café

This café looks familiar, I’m getting déjà vu

I think I came here with mon père or was it avec tu

Mon Dieu, it’s that rude garçon who fondled my cheveux

Well if he touches it again I’ll poke him in les yeux

I don’t know what to order, perhaps some fruits de mer

Followed by du canard with lots of pommes de terre

I’ll nibble on some fromage, swig champagne with my brie

Then, when I’m feeling très joyeux, I’ll try that Maître d’

I couldn’t bring myself to the point of actually submitting the mini-poem for the competition and it has taken me weeks to understand why. I was not concerned about rejection of my writing; hundreds of people must enter these competitions every month and only one can win. I was not fearing humiliation as they would be most unlikely to print “the standard of this month’s entries was very high except for the appalling rubbish submitted by Lynne Revette Butler” next to the winning poem; only those involved with judging the competition would  know if I had somehow embarrassingly  misinterpreted the instructions. Eventually I worked out the cause of my reluctance;  insufficient angst during the creative process was to blame. In fact no angst about the content of these lines, not even the slightest trace of it, had disturbed my mind during those few minutes sat in the waiting-room chair or subsequently. I was happy with it from day one. My anxiety  over submitting my poem was due to my lack of anxiety while writing it.

Is this a common feeling if you have not sat up into the early hours with your red pen?  Yes, I know I’m only talking about eight lines of  nonsense, but I cannot get past the feeling that I simply did not suffer enough when I wrote them.

8 thoughts on “Is angst-free writing ever any good?

  1. I haven’t submitted much of anything to anyone yet, but I have to admit that my favorite pieces so far have had very little angst in their creation. Quite the opposite, in fact. Scenes, and blog posts too, that shine the brightest are the ones where I was in the wording zone, oblivious to the world around me while I wrote and emerged happy at the end of them.
    Your poem sounds like just such a moment. I personally don’t think one has to suffer to create wonderful words!
    Revise them? Perhaps. But suffer? Not necessarily. 🙂

    • Hi Kirsten, sorry for the delay in responding to your comment. I think that rather than answer the individual comments I shall write a follow-up post now I have spent more time thinking about how and why I write.

  2. I thought your poem was very clever, it’s a shame you didn’t submit it. I write for enjoyment so I agree with Kirsten. I’m ususally happiest with my writing when the words and ideas flow easily.

    • Hi Vicki, I have just apologized to Kirsten for taking so long to respond to her comment and I need to apologize to you as well. Thanks for saying my poem was clever and please look out for the follow-up post which should appear on the blog next weekend.

  3. Did u have to say “du canard”??? 😉 Actually, loved the poem–made me laugh! Thx for sharing (and, yes, getting over the whole submitting your stuff, etc. thing is challenging but can be achieved–take a deep breath and jump in!)

    • No offence intended! I hope they weren’t peeking over your shoulder while you were reading. Glad the poem made you laugh. Until you posted this comment I had forgotten I started writing a follow-up post so I need to add finishing it to my v. long reminders list.

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