Linda Kulp Trout

Monday, May 7, 2012

SOLS: What to Write

One month from today will be the last day of school for students. Thanks to a snowless winter, we are finishing five days earlier than scheduled.  I'm going to work part-time, but I'll also have some time to do what I've dreamed of doing for a long time- write! 

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.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Poetry Friday: I Worried...

I am a worrier. I worry about EVERYTHING! I'm always planning ahead— always trying to control the outcome. Even when life is going well, I find something to worry about. It's not an easy way to live!Last week, I read a Mary Oliver poem that really spoke to me (many of her poems do that, but this one even more so). I hope that someday I'll learn to follow the wisdom she shares at the end of this poem.

I Worried
by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

You can read the rest of the poem and a few other from the collection here.