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.