(This short story is based off a secret I was given in a class, and asked to turn into a narrative. The original secret was “I like to write poetry about everyday experiences”.)
Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to write poetry. I don’t mean garbage like kids are forced to do for the HSC or like Shakespeare who everyone thinks is so great but is secretly just making clever “ya mum” jokes. I mean real poetry.
I kept trying, even when it was really hard. I wanted to write from every day experiences, stuff that I knew well, but it’s hard to rhyme anything with dishwasher, or lunchbox, so for a long time I’ll admit I was stumped. I mean, George Papanakis could write stuff that would make you weep, or sit for hours pondering the meaning of life. He was the kid who sat next to me, and every time we’d have to hand something in for English, I swear, the teacher would beam as if they were getting handed a crisp hundred dollar note, not Georges homework. But whenever I sat down to write, whether it was about X-rays, My Xbox or my eczema, poetry did not seem my expertise.
So one day, I decided to go to the professional.
“George?” I asked, sitting next to him one recess.
He grunted, not looking up from his book. I hadn’t thought he was busy and he was just sitting there, moving only to shove a bit of sandwich in his face or turn a page. Looking at the amount of lines of concentration on his face, I realised maybe I’d caught him at a bad time.
“George I need some help.”
“No, Juliet Chen does not have a crush on you, she only pretended to win a bet.”
That stung a little, but I pursued my aim.
“No, George, it’s not about girls. It’s about poetry.”
George ripped off a bit of paper bag and bookmarked his page. “Poetry?”
“Yea George. You know, I know you’re good at it and I’ve always wanted to be able to write about stuff in a beautiful way, so I just thought you’d be able to give me some handy hints.”
George looked up at me, chewing slowly. After a bit, he patted the bit of bench beside him. “Take a seat, mate.”
“Look mate, you’re not very good at writing stuff.”
“I know! That’s what I’d hoped you could help with!”
“You didn’t let me finish mate. If you’re not good at it now, and you haven’t been before… I don’t think you’ll ever be, mate.”
“What?” I couldn’t have heard him right.
“You just don’t have the gift, mate.”
“The gift, mate.”
” I see.”
“No worries,” I said, hopping up lightly. “Thanks for your time, George.”
“Sure thing, mate.”
“And mate?” He called after me.
I turned around, tears threatening to cascade from my eyes.
“I’m sure you’re good at other things.”
For the rest of the day I couldn’t concentrate. The gift? I absentmindedly doodled on the back of my workbook.
I felt like I’d been slapped across the face
After being told I didn’t have the gift.
The gift of writing, the gift to create,
And my whole world had taken a shift.
All this time trying to do something great
And writing line after line,
Could it be, possibly, inexplicably,
I had been wasting my time?
All my passion, my love for words
The way they skip and interlace
A dream I had dreamed since just a boy
Was gone without a trace.
Good at other things?
I didn’t actually want to be.
All I wanted was to write,
Good, great, poetry.
I put down my pen and tried to focus on what the teacher was saying. George was probably right- I couldn’t write poetry if I tried.