Auld Lang Syne

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Boyfriend Project

Disclaimer: I am happily married for over 30 years. Would not change that. Love my hubby.

Now that I have put in my disclaimer:

I have been working on a writing project (and a human project) since one of my old beaux from high school passed away in 2005. I'd just moved home to Maine and heard he had lung cancer and not that long to live. I arranged to go see him. He and I enjoyed an afternoon of reminiscing although he was very weak. I got a chance to meet his wonderful wife of nearly 40 years too. As I drove away, I thought that it it would be a good idea to track down as many of the "boyfriends" I'd had over the span of my life (from Kindergarten crushes to serious "loves" and others I'd simply dated a bit or who were boys my friends had seriously dated). Being a poet, it naturally came to the notion of writing poems about this journey. So The Boyfriend Project was born.

I'm now close to finished with the writing part. I have one more "boy" to find... the boy who was my crush at age 7 and 8. He and I made our First Communion together (I have a photo which might be a nice cover). He is the final stitch in the fabric of the work. I'd like to find him, see how he is after all these years (over 50!) I haven't had much luck so far, but will keep trying. One boyfriend, the one who "taught" me how to kiss, passed away long before I could get in touch with him. He married a girl one class below me in high school and I understand they had a wonderful marriage. I feel good about that and sad for her losing him so young.

I made a few decisions during the writing that are "artistic" ones, most specifically to smooth together some boyfriends into a kind of composite boyfriend. Poetic license is a good thing. It protects identities and incidents get better explained or presented. But the essence, the spirit of the boyfriends is intact. I have also taken poetic license with incidents in the poems, and using "generic" incidents that were not my own experience. Some were experiences of girls and boys I knew well. This is done all the time, though many people thing everything a poet writes about happened TO the poet. Not so, not so.

I made a decision early on to include boyfriends in college and beyond ( I really didn't date that much in high school), to include a poem comparing my first husband to my "real" husband, and to end the manuscript with a poem written specifically for my husband, one I like to read at the end of readings. I've written the dedication page, NOT naming names but giving some background for the manuscript's existence.

These decisions helped greatly to flesh out the manuscript, to give it enough material to BE a whole manuscript.

People in my writing group have really gotten on board with this project, eagerly reading the poems as they have unfolded and giving me great critical advice on them. I have come to realize these wonderful woman have become my sounding board, "editors," and advisors.

So, now I have a poem or two left to write, and it is time to begin the arduous part: determining the order of the poems (not necessarily chronology, but maybe). I also need to decide where to send it. Hmmmm. Any ideas?


  1. It's a good project, Carol. The writing will be great, but the emotional payoff of undertaking the project will be even greater.

  2. Yes, I think people will warm to it. I know it has been wonderful for me to write. I have all these pictures in my head of the "boyfriends" which make me smile.

  3. This sounds so interesting and original. I cannot wait to her how it pans out for you.