Apologies come in many forms. The Writer’s Almanac just yesterday gave me this example*:


by Jason Whitmarsh

That last love poem I gave you, I want to apologize for that. It was
crudely put and several of the metaphors leaned too heavily on sea
life. I love you so much more than that. The best pan of the poem
was the beginning, and that had nothing to do with you, or me,
or how much either of us loves each other. It was just a line from
another, better poem. Most of the poem sounds defensive, like I’ve
been accused of not loving you, or you of not loving me. Not that
I think I don’t love you, or you me. I don’t. Still, one could read a
poem by someone else and it’d seem more authentic—you’d be more
likely to think that poem was dedicated to you, I mean, than to think
mine was. One could even argue, too, that by studiously avoiding
your name or any identifying traits, I was making this poem fit for
more than one person, like women in general, or a second wife, or
your very attractive sister.

My own apologies are often equally (in)effective but less comical. Lately I’ve been thinking about how to frame my own apologies about my writing. Not enough of it and too much of it. I should read more before I write something myself. I could be more focused. I could be more disciplined. Yet none of this is really an apology so much as it is a self-flogging, which doesn’t really do any good, except it does produce more writing via the mechanism of the apologetic flogging. Then, it is both the solution to the “not enough” issue, and part of the ongoing problem of blathering on and on. So one fix to all this would be to simply stop, as our poet should have, or possibly not have even started, but once you get started you’re already on your way somewhere, you’ve already said something, and then it’s past a point of no return, and actually on a road on which you’re trying to make up for what you’ve already said so inelegantly. I’m sorry, too, for long sentences. And, I wish I didn’t start so many sentences with conjunctions. But I’m not creative enough to think of other transitions. And sentence fragments. Sorry. But now I’ve made it all worse. I would strive to be more like Raymond Carver (whom I should read much more) with the short sentences, the clear images, the sparse language, and most of all, the unapologetic style.


* “Apology” by Jason Whitmarsh, from Tomorrow’s Living Room. © Utah State University Press. I’ve now read three pieces by this author, previously unknown to me, and have since discovered that this collection is award winning and advocated by Billy Collins. So it’s now on my wishlist.

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