We would like to welcome Ana Parker Goodwin to Writing North Idaho as a regular contributor. Ana is an accomplished author and writer with a delightful sense of humor. Her voice will be a tremendous asset to our blog and we know you'll enjoy her insight and advice on the art of writing. Educated as a psychotherapist, Ana is now retired and writing 'How To" books in her field as well as psychological mystery thrillers so she can finally write "happy endings." Read Ana's full bio on our homepage and learn more about her writing at anaparkergoodwin.com.
by Ana Parker Goodwin
Hey, when I was a kid my teacher used to make us write poetry, and man it had better rhyme. If it didn't it was a sure D-. I was no good at it though it caught my fancy at times, especially when at the age of 11 one of the older boys in the neighborhood, who I thought was absolutely awesome, fell in love with my older sister instead of me. So I wrote poems like, "Life, oh life, is like a knife. It cuts you every day. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da. No matter what I say." And on and on using words with great dramatic effect. Then I found out he was really a mean kid. My depression vanished and I went on to the next guy down the block. More poetry.
Fortunately times have changed. I am no longer madly in love with the boy next door and poems no longer need to rhyme. Seeing as I write mostly nonfiction (e.g, 18 Steps to Cope with Post Trauma Stress (PTS)Before it Becomes a Disorder(PTSD): especially for veterans and families and Sand Play Therapy: A Step by Step Manual for Psychotherapists of Diverse Orientation), I need a break from that heavy stuff at times. So I started writing fiction as well (Justice Forbidden, a mystery about a psychologist who is sued for implanting memories in a client.) Now that was fun!
But the other day after spending hours of writing and researching PTSD, the grandpa clock striking midnight, and my thoughts in a negative rut, I needed a way to relax and to alter my thinking before I tried to go to sleep. And I remembered a woman coming from Seattle to conduct an Idaho Writers League meeting. She taught us how to write poetry. I call it the ABC method. No need to rhyme. The first sentence must start with an A and the next one with a B, etc. through the alphabet. The night of the meeting I was "in the zone" and I created a rather good poem, if I say so myself.
A Zillion Dollar Comics by Carolyn Hiler
So this night, to get my thoughts out of trauma thinking, I decided to have fun with poetry. I wrote three poems, though some of you might not consider them as such. I used the ABC method but each line consisted only of one word and I used only words that came to me instantaneously. "A Battered Cow Drove Effortlessly Forward Going Hundred Inches---." You get the idea. I had a great night with pleasant dreams, ready to get back to my PTSD writing the following day.
Next time you get stuck with what some people call "stinking thinking" or negative thoughts that weigh you down before going to bed, try having fun creating poetry. But don't become obsessive like I have a tendency to do.
Happy dreams to you.