With a bit of luck, I’ll have started mentoring someone who’s never written poetry before. She emailed me today to say how good she thought yesterday’s poem was, and how easily I seemed to be able to put my thoughts into words, and that she never would be able to. I emailed back saying a couple of things:
a) me putting words together into poetry or prose form doesn’t come that easily (it can be quite a painful process sometimes; I didn’t email this, because I didn’t want to go on. The other thing I didn’t say is that it’s often the writing – not just mine – which looks the simplest and easiest is the hardest to write; a bit like the elegant swan on the surface and legs paddling like hell example that everyone always quotes about everything);
b) that actually anyone can write, especially those who already use words to earn a living (spoken or written, seling or just reporting), because I truly believe that. If we can speak we can write.
And so I sent her a poetry prompt. Naturally, she may not go for it. She is a very busy person, after all. That’s why I said with a bit of luck at the top of the post.
Don’t ask me why I like doing this mentoring thing so much. And before anyone gets any ideas, I do it for free, and it’s not a formalised thing – it’s just encouraging people to write and being supportive about it. For me, it’s important, because it is a kind of therapy, because it can be really cathartic for people who haven’t written before (and even for people who write regularly). I think some of the folk at my occasional writers’ workshops in Stradbroke found my sessions quite odd, because I never spent much time teaching technique or offering ponters on style, but rather on encouraging people to get their deepest feelings onto paper (and everything we did there was in long-hand, and I never did any of the exercises before, but did them at the same time as the students; it would be cheating otherwise). I think I like it because I like to see people grow, ultimately, just like I want all our children to be independent and their own people because of that independence.
One last thing on writing (which this post is turning into) – if you write for long enough in one sitting, you can discover landscapes of your soul you never knew existed, can go off in directions you never thought you would take. It’s a wonderful kind of freedom.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 244