Into My Own: My Story as a Writer, Part II – Why I Wrote (1986)

I began my autobiography as a writer with an essay that explained how I began writing. It told the story of how I wrote my first poem in a note to a friend and how intoxicating those early days felt after finding this vehicle for getting things out of my head into the world. In reality, I had no idea what that world was all about let alone how to communicate with it. I had merely discovered a tool for getting my thoughts out of my own head, perhaps simply to communicate with myself. So, why did I write? This communication proved invaluable for me to understand who I was. It took another half dozen years for me to learn the phrase introvert and what it meant and probably another dozen or more for me to really understand what the definition truly meant in real terms. I did know that my head got stuck on things that other people didn’t seem too interested in and I was labeled as Serious.

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Into My Own: My Story as a Writer, Part I – How It Began (1985)

Into My Own – Robert Frost (1913)

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

Robert Frost began his fabled poetry career with this poem, the first in his collection, A Boy’s Will published in 1913 by Henry Holt and Company in New York City. When I look back on how my poetry career began with its reliance on cliché and painfully forced “abab” rhyming quatrains, I discover my invitation to steal away into my own vast woods, fearless of what I would find. Frost’s first poem articulates my journey perhaps better than I ever could. I should expect this, really, as growing up in New Hampshire, Frost serves as the first distant poetic forebear in my life like that unknowable and elusive relative who captures the imagination of a young child. Of course, Frost wasn’t a relative, but provides the first introduction to poetry for, I can imagine, any child of New Hampshire. We all read “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and deciphered the significance and metaphor of “And miles to go before I sleep” often with some degree of awe. As teenagers, we each vowed to find our road not taken that needed wear, knowing it would make all the difference. High school yearbook kind of stuff, right?

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