As you know, I teach a writing class with three wonderful girls – sisters. I call them my Bronte sisters. They come up to me each Sunday after church to say hi, pass me sweet little gifts – last week it was a crow!!! – and hand me their latest work or a new book. We chat for a few minutes and I tuck their treasures away to be explored later. The middle sister is the non-writer. We call her the Muse. She reads her sisters’ stories and then makes suggestions on changes, development, and names. The Muse also dabbles in poetry. For the first time, she passed her poetry on to me.
I’m very pleased that I have gained the girls’ trust. Only the oldest had shared her work with me so far. Now the other two have passed me their work. I try to be honest, but gentle. This is their souls opening up to someone they don’t know very well. I try to tread carefully. I also share the bad news with them. (You can’t just re-write Twilight with new names. No one cares about this character or these 100 pages. People can’t do that. This is totally silly. Oh good, they’re in love – anything else happening?) Man. Being honest is hard sometimes. I want to pat their heads and tell them they’re amazing. But….sometimes they aren’t. And trying to find the diamond in the rough or just telling them to cut huge sections of the story is hard but necessary. No one learns by being spoiled and pampered.
Now I have the Muse’s poems. She is pretty young. She is pretty inexperienced when it comes to the world, but she’s trying. The poems are stagnant. Simple. Unmoving. The focus is rhyming the end of each sentence not capturing human emotion. What do I do??? I’ve been asking myself that for hours. How do I help my Muse write poems? Well, first I write. I write this blog post. Writing helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings. It helps me more than just sitting and thinking. It keeps me focused. Sitting and thinking usually leads to daydreaming.
The first thing I realize is that I need to re-read her poems and look for the moments where she does capture the essence of humanity. I will then use these moments as a spring-board to encourage her to develop them further. I’m also going to encourage her to broaden her vocabulary so that it’s not just rhyming the word me and see. Last, I’m going to point her to write what she knows. I read a great article about this the other day – here! I think this is the direction I need to point her. I think I’m going to suggest she write about wanting to find love, the challenge of having two sisters who write, and other such things. I want to get her to express herself and not just what she thinks her parents want to hear.
Wow. That helped a lot. I have a much clearer idea of where to take her poetry.
Isn’t writing fun???!!!
Do you read poetry? Who are some of your favorite poets?