Getting Inspired (Revised)
I’ve already addressed how I get my inspiration for my poetry—but since I get asked this question almost daily, I guess I haven’t said enough. (Or you all are too lazy to browse my writing advice page! Or I wrote too many paragraphs; who wants to read all that anyway?) This time I’ll keep my advice in list form:
How inspiration comes to me:
1. Writing everyday- even if you have nothing to say, inspiration will come to you if you just pick up the pen and keep your hand moving, writing whatever comes to mind.
2. Writing down bits and pieces of conversations that I find interesting.
3. Strong emotions. Anytime I’m feeling an extreme of any emotion—it’s time to write. (I don’t care if I can barely see the computer screen through my tears, I will write).
4. Reading other poetry. Watching slam poetry. Reading my peers’ poetry. Reading classical poetry. (If you write prose, do the same.) You cannot be a writer without first being a reader. Some of those old poets are boring. Read them. Become a critical reader—a good analyzer. If you can’t understand how poetry is written, you won’t be able to write it yourself. What other poets write about will spark your own ideas.
5. Eavesdropping. Writing it down.
6. Poetry/writing exercises. Highlight the first line or a random line in every article of your local newspaper or a magazine and use them to create a poem. Copy and paste text from other languages you don’t understand, Google translate them to English, mix and match phrases to create a poem. Do something crazy—it’ll inspire you.
7. Challenging myself. I’ll tell myself, “today I’ll write a concrete poem” or, “today I’ll write in a fixed form.” Sometimes the limitations of fixed form poetry can force you to craft an idea into that form. A sestina is a poem of 39-lines, 6-lines each stanza: the last words of the first stanza are rotated throughout the ends of each of the other stanzas. Pick 6 words. Write.
9. Thinking of a really cool line, and then crafting a poem around it.
10. Thinking of issues that are important to me and what I could say about them.
11. Going to a poetry reading.
12. Thinking of something that annoyed me, or something someone said that angered me and then writing about it.
13. Remembering that I am the poet of my poetry and not necessarily the narrator—not everything you write is going to be about you, nor does it have to be.
14. I don’t know why, but science always inspires me to write poetry.
15. Unique or cool sounding words make me want to incorporate them into my poetry, or write a poem that would include them.
16. If I’m not writing, I’m always thinking. I’m always paying attention to what people are saying—how they’re saying it—so I’m able to find poetry, rather than create it at times.
17. Looking at something basic and giving it a new meaning, or thinking about it in a new way. Like maybe looking at a bug zapper and making a comparison to something else—eventually creating a metaphor out of it.
18. Paying attention to the style of other poets and trying to copy that style. (Imitate styles you like. Combine styles you like. Make it your own. Find your poetic voice.)
19. Writing about memories.
Ask yourself questions. Who are you? What do you hate? What do you love? What do you want to tell the world—about yourself—about your generation—about your gender—about your ideals? Write about it.
I’ll keep adding to this.
Hey guys, I added a new “writing advice page” under “links” on my blog!
(Because all of my advice posts are from questions that get asked a lot and they get lost easily. So if you’re interested, you can check it out in case you missed any of my seriously long and rambling writing advice! Check back because I’ll keep adding to it whenever I think I answer someone’s question particularly thoroughly.)
If beauty made noise, it would sound like rain. I would walk the streets and let it hit me. I would carry pails and catch it by the bucketful.
At the crack of thunder, I’d grab my Herbal Essences and a loofah, strip my clothes, and bathe in the nude between 5th and Broadway.
I would come back inside looking like Beyonce.
But beauty doesn’t wear a collar of bells. You cannot hear it coming. Beauty rises silently with the sun. It stills itself in puddles on the fingertips of a heartbroken girl. It materializes in mirrors in front of those who do not see it.
If you’re real quiet you can almost catch it.
It’s like listening for hooves of reindeer on a rooftop. It sounds like Hachiko’s endless paw steps on his way to Shibuya Station. It sounds like the click of a camera. It sounds like a cloud walking. It sounds like blood running through veins. It sounds like a heartbeat of a lover an ocean away. It sounds like sand art. It sounds like the shake of a Magic 8 Ball. It sounds like a snowflake. It sounds like a breath.
He kisses my lips and says he can taste the lies in my teeth. I grab some Colgate and run my tongue over my molars but I cannot taste a thing, except the salt.
“Maybe it’s the tears you taste,” I say bitterly. He laughs a laugh that I don’t love for the first time.
If I broke him, I’ve spent these months molding him back with clay. I never said I was an artist. I never touched hands with Michelangelo.
I never made you David.
I was broken when you found me, young, naïve, but beautiful. Beauty is overrated; I never aspired to be a statue. I would’ve loved you both before and after a membership to Gold’s gym.
Maybe Bella wasn’t so stupid for loving a man a thousand years old. Maybe I was wrong for making fun of her. Edward must have it all figured out. He’d never make a mistake or hurt her because he’s had a thousand years to grow up. Just like that Christina Perri song. Unlike me. Unlike us.
You have hurt me everyday. I am built in pieces. I am a piñata—paper mache constructed from strips of newspaper and glue, so fragilely held around a balloon. I am a mosaic in the stained glass window of the church in town. I am the beauty stitched together by the broken. My face is now a Picasso, but still worth $100 million.
But you don’t see it’s worth.
But you tell me it’s I, that doesn’t see—
I have broken every mirror I’ve ever received, eyed my reflection and said,
“Look, now this is reality.”
But I’m kind of glad. It’s something like the lasagna in the Tour of Italy you always order at Olive Garden. You always yelled at me for picking off the cheese as I was tasting it. Left with the basic layers torn apart: tomato sauce, pasta, cheeses; I got to see myself down to the ingredients. I got to pick out the parts of myself that were flawed.
Now I pick up the pieces and toss them to the sun. If I am broken, I will glitter. I will be the rainbow. I will be colors come together. You broke me, and I can build myself up.
I am strong.
I will come to you shining.
I will set down my paints because I cannot capture the complexity of the colors in your eyes. It isn’t my responsibility to make you whole again.
It’s your responsibility to make art with the pieces.
Satellites and Snowfall
We are a couple built from distance.
Our bones are train tracks; a railroad switch point from the radius to the ulna. I have a heartbeat like a locomotive. The waves in your hair, like the Hudson, made by a water taxi. Airplanes are given many lights: navigation, landing, logo, strobe, runway turnoff, wing, wheel well. A red beacon comes on just before pushback, before the first engine starts, and shuts off with the last engine. I have no light to alert you I am in motion—but I am. My life moves without you by my side.
Some nights, I watch the airplanes and think they are so far a distance at an altitude of 6 ½ miles—but you are further. Other nights, I see specks of light glide in a straight line from east to west and I think if I can still see a satellite so far away—then you are not so far.
Love is not always loud. Love does not always touch. At times, it is made like a rollercoaster: stacked with bars of steel and screams and safety pressed firmly against chests. Other times, it piles quietly and slowly like a snowfall when we’re asleep. Without our knowing, an accumulation has already built up. Even as we continue walking in and out of Starbucks, to the bus stop, running the sidewalk to catch up with friends—paying no attention—the ground thickens with white.
It is easy to live in fear. Those who live in it will tell you otherwise; never trust the scared. It is effortless to be afraid of life. It is simple to fear love and to fear happiness and to fear change and to fear progress and to fear rejection and to fear failure. It is even painless; but the scared will tell you of all that pains them.
The difficult thing is to live without it. Living fearless isn’t easy. One might think the brave want for nothing. But the braves expose themselves completely, and live with life instead of living a step behind it. The scared wait to see what it brings before stepping into it—always living a step too late. It is easy to live with eyes half-open, looking at only the pleasant—in the world and in the mirror. It is easy to live in fear.
Kissing you is like licking an icicle in temperatures below freezing. Somehow I’m stuck, while tasting cold and pain the entire time—but I can’t pull my tongue off yours. Or maybe it’s like those preteens in the movies with the braces and retainers and headgears that get intertwined in their first kiss.
Holding your hand is like sticking two Legos together and then realizing it doesn’t fit the design, but they’re linked to each other so well that no matter how hard I try to wrench them apart, they’ve already formed as one and my 3,417-piece Death Star is two Legos short.
Your touch is the cold water running over a burn. There’s relief in it—but it’s still a burn.