Sonnet Sunday 1: On the Writing of Sonnets

Every once in a while, somebody asks me for advice in starting a blog.

My first piece of advice is always this:

Blogging is hard. Don’t start unless you have a specific idea in mind.

I usually then use this blog as a perfect case-in-point. I won this URL in a bet, and promptly did absolutely nothing with it. In fact, the domain expired. I reregistered it when I needed to create a portfolio in grad school and I sort of poked away at it off and on, but personal blogs in general went out of vogue in favor of Facebook, and I got a steady job (8 years now) and didn’t need to specifically market myself anymore, and at one point I managed the blog for my former church, which exhausted me from writing anyway.

(Not that I ever figured out my audience. Friends? Friends don’t care about creating ethical charts, for example. And random people I meet at conferences don’t care about that time I set the rental car’s radio to polka and then watched a cute guy drive away in it. Well, maybe they do. It’s an entertaining story.)

So I haven’t had creative energy, and I haven’t had a formal goal for the blog, and that means that I go for months—or as long as a year—between updates.

But I do have sonnets.

Lots of sonnets.

Ever since I wrote one in high school for extra credit I probably didn’t need, I’ve been writing sonnets. Some of them have been lousy, of course. But some of them have been good enough that I’ve already shared them here. And some of them may just need a little spit-shine to make them worth sharing.

Introducing Sonnet Sundays

Each week I’ll be publishing a sonnet (or some other poem). Sometimes they’ll be really old, so I’ll fill in some of the historical context. (Note: by “really old” I mean the early 2000s, and by “historical context” I mean “which class was I bored in this time.”) If it’s new and raw, or if even I don’t remember the back story, I won’t. And I make no guarantees about how long this will last. But I do promise at least 6 weeks of poetry, and in fact I won’t even publish this post until those are ready.

Without further ado, here’s Sonnet 1, appropriately enough titled…

Sonnet One

First published: February 25, 2007, on Livejournal.

By 2007, Livejournal was starting its slow decline, but it was still a relatively popular writing platform. It was simple, and it was free (as long as you were okay with only a few options for your avatar). It was a good way to keep in touch with people, and it was free. Did I mention it was free?

I had a personal Livejournal at the time, but I had decided to write a poem every day for a year, and I didn’t want to spam my Livejournal friends with poetry if they didn’t care about it. So I created a poem-of-the-day account and shared them with those few who felt like following. (Spoiler alert: I totally failed at that goal.)

I definitely won’t share all of the poems I wrote for that challenge (unless I decide they’re worth mocking), but since I’m kicking off a not-completely-dissimilar project now, it makes sense to post a slightly polished version of the first one I wrote then.

Side note: this is called Sonnet One for reasons that will become clear in the poem. That being said, it’s definitely not the first sonnet I ever wrote.

It’s come to my attention that I fail
At writing much for pleasure anymore.
Professionally, sure, but that’s a chore;
For talking: texts, or Facebook, or email—
But never stories, never villanelles,
And never ballads of “my love so true”;
On rare occasions, sonnets or haikus,
But nothing fun that I can call “done well.”
So now I’ll write, to exercise my brain,
These poems, sometimes short and sometimes long;
Quite often silly; occasionally a song;
Or mere reflections on the wind and rain.
A poem daily, till the year is done—
I’ll finish this, and call it Sonnet One.