For Mother’s Day, I dedicated 11 days of poetry to my Mom and Grandma. It was an opportunity to share my work with them, and to experiment with the short-term commitment of writing for an audience. Knowing they would read my poems motivated me more than I’d expected. It stirred me from my reverie into actually publishing, albeit on a small scale, what I wanted to say. Having them in mind made word choice real, tangible, and no longer arbitrary. I could picture them reading, or waiting to read, and so I wrote more for them.
Surprisingly, I edited myself less as the days went on. Often, I take too careful an approach with words, trying desperately to express everything at once, much too high a burden for both myself and writing. With each day though, a larger body of work was forming, so there was less pressure to make every word perfect. No longer did any one sentence contain all of me, rather the sentences read together spoke to the larger ideas I was exploring.
What I came to notice with even a small audience of two was how much more accountable I was to the writing, not only to show up and do the work but also to clarify what I wanted to say. Knowing someone would read the words made them more immediate and necessary. Then strangely, and wonderfully, I was able to step back and let the work begin to speak for itself.
Rachel Deel is a writer with a background in journalism and documentary television. She is currently writing from Southwest Virginia and participating in the Novel Incubator.