I’m not sure whether the following is a “normal progression,” or not, but, in terms of time investments — comparing the hours/days to produce a poem or a personal essay, to the months/years to produce a novel — the expanding time scale from poetry to the novel does seem like a progression of sorts.
And I think that trying one’s hand at the three forms is a good investment, not only in terms of time, but also in terms of creative explorations. I’ve dabbled in all three, and not sure that this progression marks some kind of graduation, from one to the other. (I’m more of a dilettante in all three, I suppose.)
But it has been good fun and I’d like to offer a selection from my poetry, and a short personal essay that I wrote, prior to embarking on the novel. I hope that I am not fishing for compliments (although that is probably true, to some degree), and I would be grateful for your opinions on the following two offerings:
The first is a personal essay I wrote about my experiences in the Army and later with a humanitarian relief INGO — at the same location, 10 years later. Thinking back on it now, it strikes me as a warm-up exercise for the novel, and some parts of the essay have found their way into the story. [And here is another tip for writing: gather and store all the bursts of insight, or a turn-of-phrase, that work well, as they occur. Put them away in a locker of some sorts, and then draw upon them when they are ready to be stitched into a larger narrative – like the novel you would like to write.]
The second selection of writing is a poem that I wrote, about my wife and I, coping with the death of our son. It’s called, The Fourth of April.