the writer’s group

OK, so you’re in this new writer’s group

for years you’ve been avoiding them
like a plague of phone solicitors at dinnertime
but all your friends are going
and if you don’t get with it
before long they’ll all have Pulitzers
while you’re enjoying life as a jingle writer for local used car commercials

OK, so you’re at this new writer’s group
even though you fear them with the fear of the damned
because you’re so utterly naked
you and your purported art
and being thus exposed
there’s a sporting chance you’ll be revealed—instantly!
to have all the creative talent of a salad fork

but the go-go optimist in you that rears her perky head from time to time
says why yes, precious, this is exactly what you need
to water the drought that’s started to manifest
in the form of no new work in two months
nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch, squat
but don’t freak out or anything
you don’t want to give it any energy

then comes the dreaded writing exercise
and you hate writing exercises
because they demand you be creative on the spot
but you’ve never been quick on your feet
you’re terrified of improv
and now you’re entire future as a writer hinges
on the outcome of this one descent into hell
so you do this stream of consciousness thing that turns out not so bad
and brings forth hearty guffaws from your fellow writers
Well, Hallelujah, people!
say hello to the first poet poised to go platinum!

but wait—
everyone else gets to read their work
one piece is elegant and witty
another lyrical and profound
and two are the riveting beginnings of novels you’d love to read
suddenly, your piece is crap
you are crap
and now everyone in the room sees you as the pathetic poseur you truly are
you might as well crawl home
burn your notebook
and get a job selling burial plots to the indigent

OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad
you switch to attack mode
you go around the room making mental notes as to why
none of these sorry wretches
will ever reach the heights of artistic success that you’ll someday enjoy
ambitious as mud
the backbone of a banana slug
about as insightful as a Quaalude on Valium

once you’ve dismissed your friends on the basis of something—anything
other than their brilliance
which, alas, cannot be denied
you feel like scum squared
because now you’re a secret energy sucker and purveyor of bad juju
in addition to having all the creative talent of a microwave oven
and you even hate that comparison
because you don’t believe in microwave ovens
and people say what do you mean you don’t believe in microwave ovens?
but can’t explain it to someone who doesn’t get it spontaneously

so you decide it’s time to rethink your entire approach to life
how can you call yourself a poet anyway???
I mean, this hardly qualifies as a poem!
its a bit, a sketch, a whiny rant
so go ahead and convert
make it official
move to LA
become a stand up comic
yes, get famous!

but you’re avoiding this one minor obstacle
comics need the reflexes of a barefoot sprinter on hot coals
when they get heckled they can’t say
uh, excuse me
I need a couple of hours of alone time with my computer
before I can get back to you with a snappy retort—nooooooooo

so, can the writing exercises
it is time to find an improv group
maybe pose naked in Playboy while you’re at it
that’s how Marilyn Monroe got started
and some dance classes too
Mary Tyler Moore hoofed her way onto the Dick Van Dyke show
and into the hearts of a billion boob-tubin’ baby boomers
yeah, that’s it, a naked dancing improv act
I’m fine now
I’m cured
I’m ready to autograph your microwave oven

© Lisa Martinovic