In college my heart’s desire was to major in English and live as a writer in a garret in Paris. Being of a practical nature and not just a romantic dreamer I ended up majoring in Business Marketing…but my concession was to minor in English Creative Writing so I could at least live partially in that world too. I tended to be a lazy writer….thought more about writing than actually doing the work but I did write some poetry, short stories, and started at least two novels. One of my classes was poetry writing, and over the course of the semester I only turned in three poems. Three! We read our poems aloud and had them critiqued by the professor and other students and I had heard enough positive feedback to know I hadn’t at least failed the class. On the last day, we in turn, went up to the professor to get back our final poem and hear our grade. I was expecting perhaps a C, due to the scarcity of my submissions…..but when it was my turn, the professor handed me my last poem and said in a bright clear voice…..Lynette you are getting an A, as you are the best poet in the class.
I don’t remember the poems I wrote, although I am sure they are somewhere in my files. I don’t remember the other poems written by other students, except for one about flicking a stone from a bridge into a river. I am not sure why I remember that one, but I do. At this point I don’t even remember the professor’s name. But his words stuck with me…and also what he had to say about being a poet.
He said..if you want to be a poet…it isn’t enough to write poetry. You need to live in the world of poetry. You should be reading other poetry and getting to know other poets. You should be buying poetry books, because, after all, don’t you want people to buy your poetry books? You can scribble a poem here and there, and call yourself a poet…but if you really want to be a poet…you have to LIVE IT.
This has always stayed with me and it applies to other creative endeavors as well. To live the life of an artist you should be studying and enjoying and living with other artist’s works. To live the life of a writer, you should be reading other writers.
Not to copy. Not to be envious or feel bad that you haven’t accomplished what they have accomplished. Not to compare yourself with them.
To be inspired. To support the art form. To relish in sharing your passions. To learn as much as you can and take that and apply it to your particular vision. That’s what it’s all about.
Creating can be, by nature, an isolating venture. We tend to write and draw in a solitary world. So by interacting with other like-minded souls we can be enriched and nurture our creative spirit.