This last week I did something that I was sure would be outside my comfort zone.
Turns out, my comfort zone has gotten pretty big in the last couple of years.
What I did was throw coming home to the wolves on a local poetry site for a segment they call "Blind Review Friday."
The idea is you give them your poem anonymously and other poets "workshop the hell out of it."
I was concerned that since I'm fairly new to writing anything that even remotely resembles a poem that I would be thin skinned and feel bruised and battered after the commenters were done shredding my words.
Just joking around, I told the moderator of the site that it was a good thing that the piece went up on a day that people liked my flash fiction because that ego bolstering would hopefully offset any ego bruising from people hating my poem.
But, as it turned out the whole experience was quite pleasant.
I really enjoyed the experience and thought that the people at this poetry site were honest, welcoming and full of constructive suggestions.
I was surprised at first by someone actually rewriting my poem, but it was intriguing to see what it looked like and felt like after he was done.
What he did was interesting, but it changed it almost beyond recognizability for me even though he used most of the same words.
The pictures generated in my head when I read his version were drastically different from the original and the sense of immediacy changed a lot for me from his point of view.
It was still beautiful. And maybe even more poetic. But changing the rhythm really altered the interweaving between the lovers and made the piece less erotic for me.
It's amazing that something as simple as removing a few words and changing an ing to ed could affect the feel of something that drastically.
That lesson in and of itself was worth the momentary worry of stepping outside of my comfort zone.
Workshopping is a good way to hone your skills and a great way to get tips on making better choices for impact.
The one thing I do know for certain now is that unlike prose, which can be edited and added to but still be "yours" poetry is not collaborative.
But poets are.
Thanks to Michael Salinger of ClevelandPoetics and everybody who commented.
Here's the link if anybody wants to see the actual criticisms and comments.