Knowing my chunk of time is limited to the summer I'm already stressing a little over how to best use that time. What should I write? I know that the usual advice is to write what you love to read. I read a lot of poetry. I love the brevity and deep emotional connections poetry brings. I love personal essays because they help me relate to others, and I love poetic picture books,novels-in-verse, memoirs, and nonfiction books about writing. But, loving to read a particular genre doesn't mean I'd be good at writing it. I've read books on craft, taken writing courses, journaled, and talked with other writers, and prayed, but I'm still searching.
Over the years, I've had about two dozen poems, a few essays, a short story, and one early reader published. I just don't know where my writing strength lies. If I had a lot of time, I'd probably start a project in each of those genres and see where they lead, but I'm not sure I can handle multiple projects. My hope is to finish at least a first draft of book length project or collection this summer.
Even with my publications, I'm not confident that I can write anything worth publishing. That little voice that has kept me from submitting keeps whispering that maybe the editors who published my work were just being kind, or maybe they simply didn't have much to choose from so that made mine work look good.
I want my words to touch the hearts and inspire the minds of others. I'm not interested in fame or fortune, I'm not interested in writing just to be published. I am interested in creating something that is meaningful to me and to my readers. I once read an interview where a writer said he can't think about how his readers will react to his writing because the pressure would keep him from getting words on the page. That thought scares me, but when I read something that touches me, makes me think in a new way, or gives me hope, I dream of writing words that will do that for someone else. I don't know if I can do that, but I'd like to try.
So, how do I figure out where my writing strengths lie or if I have any writing strengths at all? How have you figured out your own strengths? I just realized that I've been working on this for the past two hours and it's past my bedtime so no revising. I still have another month of classes to teach, so I'm hoping I will find my direction by the time school ends.