- literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature (Dictionary.com)
I would like to begin with the disclaimer that I am not claiming to be a “professional poet”, I simply decided to write, and then began.
When I decided to write, the first form of writing I attempted was poetry (as most teenagers do). I wrote a poem called “The Florist’s Daughter”, written for a friend of mine who is, in fact, the daughter of a florist. I put it on the first page of a little black leather notebook that fit in my pocket, the first of many to fill it’s pages.
Of course, looking back on that poem I would love to edit it, but of course that would ruin the integrity of the piece. To edit it now would make it cease to be a marker of progress, which would sure be a shame. That’s really what these books are to me, markers of progress.
The notebook I scribbled that first poem in soon became a vice of mine, every emotion I had was put in that book. Every poem I had ever written was either first written directly in its pages, or written digitally then copied in.
When the book was filled in, I bought a another one, and when that one was full I bought another, I’m currently on my third little notebook of poems, my most recent is numbered at 125.
Everyone who asks me how to start writing poetry gets the same answer, and I stick by it: write everything. Every little poetic thought, or huge poem with tons of emotion, every poem you think of, write it. Even if it’s bad, even if you would never show it to someone. Write it and keep it, because you’ll find that the more you practice, the easier it will begin to feel. Not only that, but you’ll get better and better!
Most of them aren’t even worth sharing, just little ideas and scribbles, some of them aren’t even finished, but I’m still proud of every single mark in those books. They’re a picture of my progress as a writer, a journal of my experiences so far.
Poetry, for me, has always been a very personal art, something I only shared with close friends. The idea of sharing my personal thoughts and feelings with others seemed impossible, more than that, it felt like something I didn’t even want to do.
But with more and more time I began to feel trapped in my own head, the writing was only cathartic to a certain extent; past that, I was still just shouting my emotions and opinions into the void. With no one to respond, it became suffocating. My writing had grown teeth, and was beginning to chew at the cage I had locked it in.
The first person I ever sat down and read my poetry to (in length, I had shared one or two poems before this) was my college roommate. She is someone in my life I can guarantee a constructive–but not condemning–response from. Her response was perfect, she was positive but also critical, which spurred me on to further exploration into sharing my writing.
This blog, for instance, is an example of me stepping out of my comfort zone to share what I write. A year ago, I would have never shared any piece of text that I had written, let alone one that clearly states my opinions and attempts to make an argument.
Emotional writing is something to be shared. It is communication, every piece of writing (no matter how much we might think otherwise) has a message to be shared and a purpose to exist. Letting those pieces of yourself out onto paper is cathartic for a while, but eventually it’s not enough anymore to be locked up with no true emotional escape.
You might think that keeping your writing to yourself isn’t bothering you, but I can assure you once you start sharing you’ll realize just how badly you needed to.
It took me years to get to that point, though, where I could easily share my writing. It took separating my worth from the worth of what I had written, and even though it feels like they do: the things that you write do not define your personage. Neither do the opinions of your readers, they are invaluable to the success of the piece that you have written, but they do not determine who you are.
To be confident in your writing, you have to be confident in your identity as a writer, because rejection is a defining part of this experience. It’ll always sting, but it shouldn’t make you question your validity. That should be decided from day one. To borrow a general idea from Descartes: you write, therefore you are a writer.
Sharing our writing is just the beginning, we still have miles to go.