Hi Creative One,
Mark Twain said, “Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog; you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.”
No frogs were dissected in the writing of this blog-post.
I was thinking about that quote the other day because I want to write better poetry, (which is another way of saying that my ego was comparing my poetry to other people’s poetry and telling me mine wasn’t good enough. The ego likes to say stuff like that, bless its heart, and unless I’m paying attention, I buy into it and that really annoys me).
Anyway, I bought a How-to-Write-Better-Poetry-Because-Yours-Sucks book on Amazon, started reading it, and then slammed it shut.1 It was a good book, written by a talented poet, but I realized that reading it was dissecting my “poetry frog.” I like my poetry frog. It hops from one idea to the next without instruction, and when I trust it, the trip is better than any trip I could take in a plane, train or automobile. Allowing my intuitive self take a creative trip comes with perks and postcards.
There’s no doubt I could benefit from some critique once I’m finished with a poem, but I also believe that you and I have creative instincts. They are instincts that, when trusted, can be more satisfying and authentically ours than following how someone else tells us poetry, art, writing, etc. should be produced.
The things the poet taught in the book were things I was doing instinctively but reading the instructions was taking the fun, spontaneity, and surprise out it. One of the things I love about writing is letting words flow on the page without explanation or analysis as if I am taking dictation from some generous delirious muse that’s drinking a lot of coffee2 and just blurting out strange or absurd verse that wraps itself up into inadvertent meaning as if it were always fully formed but just waiting for transcription. I like that goddess with the coffee habit; I wish she were around more often.
This all may sound odd, but you writers who write instinctively know what I’m talking about.
I had such an urgent deadline with my first book that I wrote 12-14 hours a day and when I went back to read it, I wondered who wrote it. But I liked it and so did some big publishing houses in New York.
What if you stopped comparing your creative voice to other people's or relying on the instruction of others and started being your own audience, finding what you love even if it doesn’t sound anything like what others are sharing? If you do that already, I celebrate you. 3
1 It was literally a poetry slam.
2 At least she can still drink it, I have to drink decaf.
3 I’m raising my cup of decaf to you.