Ever since I was a little boy I dreamed that some day I would have the opportunity to write professionally full time, so I practiced.
Twenty years ago, I decided, for practice, to write a sonnet a week for a year and to exchange them with a friend every Monday morning for 52 weeks to keep this discipline alive. After that year I forgot about them. They were just another exercise like calisthenics or running laps. It was just practice.
Recently, I rediscovered the sonnets but they were different. I was surprised to find that because I was forced to write every week I had accomplished something I’d never expected. I had written an accidental diary.
What was wonderful about this accidental diary was that it never was designed to see the light of day. It was whimsical and nakedly honest. In hindsight, each sonnet turned out to be a snapshot of a random thought happening at the given moment that I had to write.
Most were finished late on Sunday nights, written from scratch. One I added latter. A few were reshaped from old stuff if I was short on time.
Each sonnet covered every subject imaginable but together they were a subjective scrapbook of a year of my life. They were little stories written in 14 lines which ended in rhymes and a rhyming couplet to tie it all up.
Now as I turn the pages of that year, I can see how unconsciously I developed confidence and a sense of humor and I found my voice.
It is so wonderful to take the time to look back over your shoulder and accidentally discover what you didn’t know you were. Practice makes pluperfect.