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why i'm afraid to write in pen

by TheBlueCat

whenever given the choice

between pencil and pen,

i always choose pencil.

but why, i can never understand.


i love the smooth ink of a pen

no concern that the lead will break

right in the middle of a word.


i love the sound of the ballpoint

running smoothly across the paper,

the scribbling so familiar.


so why am i afraid?

afraid to write in pen?


maybe it's the permanence;

i have to much doubt, hesitation

to make a commitment like that.


maybe i always know how many mistakes i'll make

and just can't stand the fake cover-up

of cheap white paint.


either way, i will always choose pencil,

so that i know that if i make a mistake

i have the chance to fix it.

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894 Reviews

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Reviews: 894

Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:59 pm
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alliyah wrote a review...

Hey Cat,

I enjoyed reading this piece - and although I believe this was from NaPo this year? I wanted to say that I appreciate how your poetry is pretty diverse in the themes that it covers - that's something I personally struggle with is not just writing the same poem again and again and again, but you seem to do quite well diving into a host of different themes, and moods, and tones, and I think that's a good think to do as your developing your poetic voice and also just exploring poetry - because writing about different topics and themes makes you continually have to search for new images and metaphors and ways of speaking. Anyways let's get to the reviewing!

Quick grammar mistake:
"i have to much doubt, hesitation" <- I like the comma and word placement of hesitation, because it makes the reader pause/hesitate before jumping to the next line because it's at the end and separated with the comma. "to" should be "too".

That was pretty much the only little grammar thing that I saw. And I think the lowercased letters are perfect for a poem about permanence and lacking self-confidence.

Now as far as content - I interpreted the poem to be an extended metaphor about a speaker who is afraid to go "all in" in life - or to make hard and fast decisions, because they're afraid of making permanent mistakes, so they reflect on this metaphor of how they always write in pencil rather than pens.

I like the metaphor, it works well - and you've got some nice imagery to go with the picture. One issue I had is that the whole poem seemed to be building up this metaphor of "pencil>pen" for 6 stanzas, and then we only got 1 stanza (# 5) that actually uncovers the metaphor and makes the connection to reality.

The issue I have is that the other stanza's imagery don't seem to have much connection to the uncovered metaphor. Like they're nice images, but if this is all a metaphor they don't end up saying much... for instance what could 'cheap white paint' be a symbol of? smooth ink, and scribbling have the same issue. Describing the process of writing in a way that could connect more or have parallels to actual life and lack of commitment I think would make the poem stronger, and also make the other stanzas more satisfying.

Here's sort of an example of what I mean:

Spoiler! :

Metaphor without connections - unlinked details

I like rivers [metaphor]
I like rivers with fish [unlinked detail]
I like rivers when I can swim [unlinked detail]
I like rivers when I also sometimes find seaweed [unlinked detail]
Sometimes people think lakes are rivers [unlinked detail]
rivers are like time [metaphor revealed]
I like time [metaphor linked]

Metaphor with implied or explicit connections

I like rivers [metaphor]
some rivers wind fast [implied connection, revealed after line 4]
some rivers wind slow [implied connection, revealed after line 4]
rivers are like time [metaphor revealed]
sometimes we get lost on these rivers [added detail links to metaphor real & symbolically]
some people take the rivers for granted [added detail works both ways]
some people think they can live off drinking river water[added detail works both ways]
but every river ends eventually [added detail works both ways]
and time ends for all [metaphor connected a second time]

Your own poem could simply use more of the details that work both ways / or else just the unlinked details taken out, because they don't end up building up the metaphor. You might actually be able to draw out some of the details and connect them symbolically & to reality, but that would take a bit of extension. Just a few more connections throughout. I hope that makes sense!

That was about all the feedback I have for this piece! I think the only other comment I'd make is that the poem would look a bit more polished if the stanzas were even - but they weren't drastically different, so I'm not sure it makes too much of an impact.

Hope to see more of your poems soon! (And as always let me know if something in my review didn't make sense, or you wanted more feedback on something I didn't address)

- alliyah


TheBlueCat says...

thank you!! <33 (yes, this was from napo c:)
also, there was not supposed to be any metaphors here, I was simply debating pens and pencils, and that was all xD (Although I can see how one could be beneficial/read without it being there) anyways, I love your reviews and thanks again<3

alliyah says...

You're welcome Cat!

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234 Reviews

Points: 1635
Reviews: 234

Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:35 pm
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Horisun wrote a review...

This is soooo relatable! I love how you list all the reasons why pens are amazing, and then finish it with why you never use it. Throughout the poem, I was grinning ear to ear. It is just so much fun to read!
I do think the ending could be a little more impactful. I love reading things where at the end, it's like the writer dropped a bomb on my head, with the ending here, I felt it sizzled out a bit. I think if maybe you played around with the wording a bit, it might make it more wow! But it's really up to you, just thought I'd mention it.
Other than that, I really loved this poem, and I'll certainly be reading another one from you! Keep on writing!

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Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:26 pm
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LukeRH says...

Great poem I love it, it speaks volumes.

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Reviews: 16

Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:06 pm
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SuperOriginalName wrote a review...

Dear TheBlueCat,
This is an awesome poem! I can definitely relate to this, and made me realize how much commitment you put into just writing one sentence in pen. Writing like this has always given me a bit of pressure, and now I know why. You are very good at writing poems, and I appreciate how you know that a poem does not need to rhyme. However, there is always room for improvement.
First of all, (at least for me) grammar is very important, especially on a website like this. What I notice is that when you say "I," as in "me," it must be capital. It is the same with "I am" or "I'm," no matter where you are in a sentence. In your titles, for the majority of your writing pieces, you do not use and capitals there, either. For example, "why i'm afraid to write in pen" should be "Why I'm Afraid to Write in Pen." In my opinion, this makes it look more sophisticated and complete.
On conclusion, I just wanted to tell you that grammar is very important, and that in your titles, I recommend you use it.

TheBlueCat says...

Hey, thanks for the review! I just wanted to say that while I 100% agree that grammar is very important, poetry can be a bit flexible and confusing at times. I know it can make me look lazy or, as you say, unsophisticated, but I have my own reasons why I format my poetry like this. I have a certain response I like to get from my reader in a poem with a subject like this, and for me, I think my capitalization choice will generally get me the response I want. I'm sorry if this is starting to sound a little rant-ish, but poetry is near and dear to my heart, so I like to educate! Here's a super great resource that explains this topic better than I can: Capitalization in Poetry
If you have any more questions about poetry (or anything really!) feel free to ask! Thanks again for the review! c:

Thank you for being so kind and giving me great feedback. I will be sure to use this link in the future!

TheBlueCat says...


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524 Reviews

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Reviews: 524

Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:57 pm
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Jaybird wrote a review...

Hey there! I'm back again to leave you another review.

I already had my suspicions on what the message of this poem was when I saw the title, and I definitely wasn't disappointed once I actually read your work.

It's always interesting seeing what writing utensils people pick. I usually pick pens for the reason you don't - I love the finality of them, especially when you can always cross out mistakes and scribble something else right above the old words. But I do agree with your hatred for white-out, and I love how this goes deeper than the aesthetics.

One of my favorite parts of your poem is when you described why you should like pens over pencils. Your metaphor for wanting to be perfect is a fun one, but it also doesn't feel entirely original. The two stanzas where you compliment pens really make you poem special.

As with the previous reviewers, one of the things that stuck out to me was the varying amounts of lines per stanza. You could try making them each three lines long, but I actually think it might be more interesting if you add more variation to line length in the final sets of stanzas. Right now it looks a little odd, but making the variation into a pattern of its own could be a fun way to tackle that critique.

Other than that, your poem looks great! It's definitely worthy of a reread someday, especially when I'm feeling really in tune with my perfectionist side. :P


TheBlueCat says...

Aww thank you Mage! <3

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Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:26 pm
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kaenexion wrote a review...

Hey there! I'm going to preface this comment by saying that this is my first review, so I apologize if it's not as helpful as you'd like (I'm still learning, I'll hopefully be able to review your work again in the future and do better next time).
First of all, can I just say I love the little message behind this? The message, along with the whole pen/pencil thing makes a lot of sense. And (I know this is going to sound stupid, but I might as well include it) as an art student who is absolutely terrified of using a pen for /anything/, it quite literally resonated with me because of my own fears with using ink.
Something that did throw me off was the number of lines in each stanza. You went from four lines, to three, to two, and back to three. I actually really did like the stanza with two lines, I wouldn't suggest you change that one. My only suggestion for that is to either stay consistent with three-line stanzas, or bring it up to four lines. It's not even that critical to do so, your poem is great either way and I really did enjoy reading it!
One more note because I forgot to mention it, I do also really like how you didn't capitalize anything. I really don't know why I like that, but it works well with the poem and it was a good choice with the style of this specific poem.

TheBlueCat says...

Thank you so much! This was actually a great first review, I really appreciate your thoughts! I'm kinda an artist myself; that may be the reason for the poem, or maybe just the fact that I make a lot of mistakes while writing XD Anyways, thanks again and let me know if you ever have any questions about reviewing or yws in general! C:

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551 Reviews

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Reviews: 551

Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:21 pm
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hello my poetic friend! FlamingPhoenix here with a review for you on this lovely night to help get your work out the green room.
If I say anything rude in this poem I an very sorry ahead of time.

Okay let begin.

Okay so I really like it that you have out this poem into paragraphs it really helps with the flow and the feelings behind it, but it will be best to give the paragraphs the same amount of lines, like in the first paragraph it's only four then it goes to three, then it says three, so this time is wasn't so bad, but in other poems in you have three then two then four it can really mess up your poem and the flow you have put into it.
But that little thing didn't affect this poem, it was a little strange to go from four lines to three but it wasn't to bad.
I really like the little message you got behind this poem, its so out there and I as a writing can really agree with this. I to don't like writing in pen with out being very sure. So this was really funny and so true at the same time.
I really liked reading this and I hope I will get to read more of your works soon. I hope you will keep writing and posting, because I will be keeping an eye out for more of your work. Sorry I didn't say more about this work, you really did blow me away and all my words.
Have a great day or night.

Your friend
Reviewing with a fiery passion!


TheBlueCat says...

Thanks for the review my fiery friend~ c:

No problem my fury friend!

If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
— Mo Willems