This semester, I did something crazy: I signed up for a creative writing class, on purpose.
The reason this is insane is because while I do some creative writing, I, like many writers, do not want to share it. My creative writing is personal more often than not and it can be tough to share it with other people. Sharing your writing is a opening up a vulnerability and that is a difficult thing to do when it’s so easily criticized. People have told me that there’s no way anyone would be as harsh as I am on myself. While they might be right, I also know that analyzation requires readers to bring enough to the table that my intentions might not always be clear.
It seems clear that the solution is to not share my work with anyone, right? Nope. You can never improve if you don’t get feedback. Another person reading and telling you what they see happening is the only way to learn what a reader might see. It’s a practice we use here at the Center, but it’s the same process for creative writing. This usually leads to trying to figure out the best combination of words to put a specific picture in the reader’s head. A goal like this requires read, after read, after read and drains the life from a person., especially the author.
Now the question becomes, what do you want the reader to take from what you’re writing . Is it the perfect image of the ceramic mug you use that has your alma mater’s logo on it with your name inscribed or is it that you’ve never felt love once in your life? Could it be the feel of the cotton, polyester blend of your hoodie or the complete emptiness left from a friend replacing you? The answer is that each experience and feeling is unique and difficult to explain. Evoking such things in prose can take anywhere from four words to four pages and then it’s time to wonder if it’s worth it.
Prose seems like the normal way to write. We can use as much space as we want and even separate it into long sections that go together; you know, chapters. But, it’s easy to fall into Polonius-esque paradigm. There is the option to sacrifice specificity for length in poetry. The form also allows for a wider variety in interpretation. Does that mean that one is more valid than the other? Is one closer to the truth than the other? If so, which would it be?
I write prose and poetry; once in awhile, it might even overlap. Being aware of the audience and what you want them to understand has been helpful for me to decide how to write things, but I’ve also figured out that you can’t be afraid of where it might take you. It’s an interesting thing to learn. I say this because it happens more frequently in my writing. Hell, I started writing this blog post with the intention of discussing how writing poetry has helped me to funnel some of my personal issues into something productive and I’ve ended up with a strange philosophical/advisory piece about writing stories.
I think the most important thing of all is to write (as cheesy as that sounds).