A fellow writer recently pointed out to me that my poems are usually written in first-person.
Insecure thoughts immediately started racing through my head: There are too many ‘I’s in my poems! There’s too much focus on me, me, me! Somebody besides me has noticed and disapproves. How embarrassing!!!
Lack of Confidence Alert!!!
I quickly replied that I had purposely written a few that are not told in first-person because I don’t want people to get bored with my poems. Her response told me that I had jumped to the wrong conclusion. I don’t remember word-for-word what she said, but basically it was this:
No, don’t force it. You’re searching. Your poems reveal that you’re working something out. Deep inside you want to say something and you feel like you haven’t been heard. That’s why you use ‘I’ in your poems. Once you feel validated, you’ll begin to write about other things. Maybe it will be once you’ve published your first book. For now, this is how you need to write.
You know what, I think she’s right!
My insecurities and self-doubt got in the way for a moment, but as she spoke I understood. It was great advice, very insightful, and it started me thinking about how my writing process affects me, my poems, and my readers. Please take from her comments what speaks to you. This is how it spoke to me:
• Don’t force it. Say what you need to say in the way that you need to say it at this moment in time. Maybe you’ll write a thousand poems before you work it out. That’s okay. You’ll have a thousand good poems in your collection.
• Don’t get in your own way. Write what comes naturally to you. Let it flow. If you can do that, you may be given the gift of writing something amazing that will speak to others on a level you can’t even imagine right now.
(If you have trouble letting it flow, practice. Write whatever comes into your head and don’t sensor it even if it sounds ridiculous. You can revise it later, as needed. Amongst the rubble, you might find a gem worth displaying!)
• Your writing will grow and evolve as you do. More importantly, you will evolve and grow as your writing does.
• Poetry has the potential to speak to the heart and emotions of the reader when it comes through the heart and emotions of the writer. If the writer blocks the path of authenticity, neither will be satisfied in their search. If you are inspired to write in first-person, write in first-person. A reader is waiting who needs to hear it in just that way.
It’s a wonderful gesture for someone to share a bit of good insight with you. Hear it. Let it help you grow. Find people who encourage and support you. Write with authenticity and the rest will follow.
If you’d like to leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you have to say.