Back in the mid 1990s, before the Internet and when I was still fairly new to this writing thing, I wrote poetry in addition to fiction. I sort of fashioned myself as a multi-format writer, who would dabble in poetry and fiction and ultimately expand into screenwriting (for that big payday) and playwriting and perhaps even the occasional nonfiction piece. At the time it made sense, seeing as I had not disciplined myself long-term in any of the formats and being in my early 20s I was still young and the world was wide open.
In those early days, I was able to publish some poetry in my college’s literary publication, which, obviously, was a big lift to my early writing efforts and gave me some confidence that my writing was worth something. I had been sending around poems and fiction to various publishing outlets, racking up the rejections, and for awhile, the college mag was the only credit I had. I continued writing poetry and fiction until the late 1990s (screenwriting and playwriting never materialized, though I tend to irregularly write something nonfiction, like this blog post). At some point, fiction overtook poetry, likely assisted by a predominantly fiction writing group I was in at the time, enrolling in a graduate writing program, and finding quality fiction publications on the Internet. By the turn of the century, I was done writing poetry. For me, now, it’s all about fiction.
Now, most of the poems from back then look fairly embarrassing (as does a lot of the fiction, frankly). I doubt that any of them will appear on this site. Of course, the world is still wide open even in my late 30s; if I really wanted to, I could start writing poems again, or I could turn to screenwriting or playwriting or even become an essayist. While these are all fine pursuits, none of them has me wondering, what if? I can safely keep these things tucked in my past or leave them as things I didn’t pursue and be fine with that. If I abandoned fiction, I know I would be awake at night wondering just what the heck I was doing. Fiction, whether I’m any good at it or not, is what I feel I should be writing. I don’t have any misgivings about whether or not I’m doing the right thing.
In many ways, I think the poet version of me merged with the fiction writer (flash fiction is a good blending of the two) and now I’m just one writer, hopefully improved, hopefully continually improving.