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I am…

I am a writer.  This is not to say that I am a good writer.  I’m a passable writer and I’d go so far as to say that I’m better than average.  But I don’t know that I’m a good writer.  I hope I am, and I hope that some day I’ll be great, but as of right now: I am a writer.

So, hubby is reading a book called critical path cause his brother suggested it.  (He doesn’t take my book suggestions.  No worries, we just have very different taste in books.) And he shared this with me.  It’s included in the forward of the book and it is by E.E. Cummings.

A Poet’s Advice

e. e. cummings

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time—and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world—unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

My husband read that to me and I was immediately struck by how true it was.  I realized that as I have been endeavoring to write a novel (yes, I’m writing a novel) there will be times when I’ve been reading, and since I tend to read books manically, I’m usually very immersed in a writer’s style while reading it.  During those times I’ll try writing a section of my book and I’ll think it’s good.  However, when I go back to it later, I realize that there is something wrong with it, but until I read this bit of advice, I didn’t know what it was.  Whether consciously or not, I’ll slip some of an authors style into my own writing if I’ve been immersed in their books.  And when I do that, I end up not liking it.

I have been doing a lot of rewrites lately.  I rewrote the entire introduction of my book because it just felt wrong.  I now realize that it felt wrong because I wrote it while reading Jane Eyre, and so it reads a little bit like Jane Eyre. And Charlotte Bronte, I am not.  The rewrite is much better.

I also realized that my favorite scene in the book is one that I’ve never rewritten or even tweaked.  I wrote it and it was right the first time, because it was me writing it, using my words.

It’s a useful realization and hopefully one that will assist me in my writing.  So thank you Mr. Cummings for being all smart.  And thank you, Hubs, for sharing.


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