Tools of the Writer

“The pen is the tongue of the mind”

~Miguel de Cervantes~

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Expression

Poetry is expression. It allows you to say things that you would never dare to speak aloud, things that you are sometimes surprised you were thinking at all. Poetry allows the writer to know himself, so that he may discover the extent of his creative imagination and work toward pushing its limitations. Poetry is pain without having to be pain, a medium that can bring isolation and joy together without feeling the need to make excuses for itself. It drains the senses only to fill them with something else entirely, and there is always something else, clawing at the corner of the mind and demanding to be heard.

I write poetry mostly because I don’t have a choice. When that itch, that hunger to transfer my heart onto paper comes, I am completely and utterly enslaved to its will. I do not pretend to understand it, nor do I believe that I ever will, but I love it all the same. Poetry is what gives me voice, although I am just the messenger. The words, they often tell me, like to speak for themselves.

It’s always hard for a writer to hear the question: “what inspired you to write this?” primarily because we often don’t know. Would it be too simple to say that poetry is my inspiration? Too often I don’t see it coming, the onslaught of thoughts barreling through my mind and frantically waiting to be written. But, if I were to put a name to it, I would say that life itself influences and inspires me. The amputee waiting to cross the road at a busy intersection while the rest of the world drives by, the child walking through the isles of a grocery store, tears glistening in her eyes as she follows her inattentive mother – small details that we pass every day but never stop to consider, those are the moments that I take advantage of. Suddenly a word is born, a phrase constructed. And the rest…well, the rest is poetry.

The Potentiality of Our Work As Writers

The beginning writer is tempted to write everything at once. To impress his audience he uses words that he may not always fully understand, and devices that seem forced, dragged against their will and wedged awkwardly in a sentence where even they know they don’t belong. 

There are writers, and then there are those who write. The writer is he who has practiced his craft for as long as he can remember, pulling words and phrases out of thin air and trying his best to construct something that will (hopefully) make sense. Unless, of course, the object is for it not to make sense at all. But those who choose to dedicate their lives to the craft of writing know when a story has ended before it even begins — and so they crumble the sheet and toss it, or they delete the file and start over. Either that, or they choose to take a different approach. Move sentences around, take out unnecessary paragraphs, et cetera. Beginning writers sometimes fail to see when a story, or a poem or novel, aren’t working. They continue to write weak scenes, cliched characters, and when it comes to the revision process they find themselves having to hack at these things with vicious brutality.

It’s an important strategy — for established and novice writers alike — to be conscious of our own work. Writers, like most artists, tend to believe that all of their work is flawless. We tend to get defensive when someone dares to criticize our “masterpieces”, and so overtime we might start to lose confidence in our own skill. It’s important that we know from the outset that our work isn’t, and will never be, anything close to perfect. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive toward perfection, but we need to know that it is something unattainable. We do not write in order to produce perfection. Instead, our goal every time we sit down to write anything should be to inspire, to educate. To open a reader’s eyes and keep them that way, so that our audience becomes so immersed and absorbed in our words that they are taken aback when the poem/story/book is finished, and find themselves wanting so desperately to return. 

Writing is a way of spreading universal messages, a chance to stand on the pinnacle of the world and say what is yours so that everyone can potentially listen. Such work comes with responsibility, so it goes without saying that we need only put forth our best work for the effort. Write a first draft, and a second, and a third. Only when you are sure you have given it your all can you then rest assured that it has potential. Potential, and not perfection. Recognize the difference. It will make you so that you do not break. 

“Negatives”

We are the negatives

In the dark room 

Glowing in the red

That is our anger

Anxious to be released

From the confines 

Of this gripping 

Reality 

We are the black and whites

Dipped and left to dry

And still we remain 

Undeveloped