Thursdays at The Variegated Life: on the creative life and shipping the goodies …
Of my ten rules for writing poetry, #2 (Write every day), #4 (Read poetry), and #5 (Read about poetry) are the most obvious. And yet, how easily I forget! I should make a notice to hang above my desk:
When you feel you have nothing to say
or that you have no idea what you’re doing,
read poetry, read poetry, read poetry!
By keeping a journal, I get to know my material. By reading poetry (and, though to a lesser degree, by reading about poetry), I see the variety of ways in which my material (possibly) can be shaped into art. Not all ways will suit me or my material. But, as Marie Howe put it in a recent Writers Studio craft class, by reading we “take in possibilities from other writers.” Some of those possibilities just might be my possibilities, too.
Plus, there is the pleasure of reading:
A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, “Do you think I could be a writer?”
“Well,” the writer said, “I don’t know…. Do you like sentences?”
The writer could see the student’s amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am twenty years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, “I liked the smell of the paint.”
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Oh, how I love sentences!
How do you cultivate your sense of possibilities for your creative work? What feeds your aspirations?
Next Thursday: on shitty drafts and trusting the process.