A Writing "Chan-ecdote"

by Channler Twyman

When I was in 8th grade I entered my first poetry slam competition. Clearly, I thought I had a lot to say at fourteen. At the time, my idea of spoken word poetry seemed to be whoever screamed the loudest got the most applause, and inherently “won.” So, I wrote a lot of bullshit about love and sad things, thinking that if I made the words sound real, then I’d win. If you haven’t guessed by now, I lost. I was pretty torn up about it. I may have cried (I definitely cried).

Flash forward to ninth grade. My high school ran a prestigious literary magazine, and I thought my writing had improved somewhat. I couldn’t win people over with talking loud, so I figured writing about sad things would get me in for sure. Sometimes that works, however I wrote sad poems for the sake of being sad poems. My intentions weren’t pure. No surprise, but my work wasn’t accepted.

At this point I was highly pissed off. Granted, I wasn’t as serious about my writing as I am now, but being the ambitious and competitive Capricorn that I am, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming feeling of defeat. I didn’t really know what was wrong with my writing. Why couldn’t I master poetry? I was one of the few students in my grade who took honors English for crying out loud! I had the opportunity to submit my work again the following year so, I asked my best friend at the time, who was and probably still is an amazing writer, what I should do for my work to be accepted.

Her words of advice have stuck to me until this very day. She said, “Well, they are always looking for pieces that are original. Try to write about something unique to you.” I took what she said to heart, and I wrote pieces that weren’t sad or “loud.” I wrote pieces that carried real value to me. I wrote about the world in the way that I perceived it, and wanted it to be.

I am sharing this story to let folks know that writing is a process. I look back on those times where I didn’t realize just how important words were and just how greatly they would impact my life. I feel as though every writer (and person) should write poetry at some point, regardless of what form you write in. Writing poetry has improved my writing in a multitude of ways. It is the most freeing form of writing there is, and practicing the craft in such a free-flowing away helps to center your ideas when you write in forms that are stricter in structure. Most importantly poetry is an excellent way to find your voice. To tell a story—your story—in a way only you can tell it in its rawest form.

Writing should be tended to and worked on constantly. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but imagine what would have happened had I not taken my friend’s advice. I can guarantee that I would not be writing this article, or have people reaching out to me to submit to their publications. It takes time, endurance, and practice. I hope you all took away something from my story. I have plenty more that I’d love to share. The second time I submitted to my high school’s lit mag my work was accepted. Seven years later it remains the one that I’m proudest of.

— Channler Twyman is a writer who hails from South Georgia where his love for literature began at the age of two. He currently attends the College of Wooster where he continues to foster his craft. Although, he has a passion for the literary arts, he still hopes for the day where he achieves his final form and is able to battle the forces of evil as a Sailor Scout.