No, I’m not selling socks, if only I were! All is clear with socks, you buy them by sizes, colours, thickness and their composition. But if you are selling customized poetry it’s different. My service is unique and tailored to individual and specific requests. A number have been coming in recently, ranging for a speech for a best man, a poem about parental alienation and some requests for poems about love gone wrong.
There is nothing on the shelf to take down and wrap up, only the blank piece of paper, a pen and the notes sent in by the person requesting the poem. At that first moment, it’s difficult. Will I be able to think of anything different to say? Will I get stuck after a verse or two and have to abandon the task? Will I have been empathetic enough with the customer’s request? After all, this is a person I have never met, know almost nothing about and may live on the other side of the world. I may also have to do some additional research on certain subjects before I can even begin to think of the lines. I know nothing about the Incredible Hulk, or owls, or skeleton keys, but I’ve been asked to include them in verse.
Usually though, after the first few scribbles, some ideas begin to take shape. Sometimes the rhythm is at the forefront of my mind, and sometimes it might be a few key words from what the customer has actually provided. And so, things begin to take shape, though there are usually about three pages of crossed out verse before I get to a decent draft. Then I begin to feel pleased with myself that once again the creative muse has stirred me!
I always read the poem aloud before completing it, sometimes several times; that helps to iron out the glitches, though in this hot weather with the windows wide open I do wonder what the neighbours might be thinking.
Sometimes, sitting here at my desk in the attic I get a strange sense of connection with the customer and have some certainty that they will like what I have written. But that doesn’t stop me being very nervous, once I have pressed the SEND button. I really look forward to the feedback and love to know how my poems are received.
After all, it’s much better than being thanked for sending a pair of socks!