“Earth, teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth, teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth, teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth, teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.”
Poem by William Alexander
Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be appropriate to start this post with a poem. Spring is upon us here in the mountains. The earth is warming, waking up, coming to life all around me. The vibrant colors of the flowers look like songs they are singing to the sun.
I haven’t had the time recently to write a blog post, and in truth I do not really have it now. I am taking it anyway. I am seizing time, as we all must do if we are ever to own any of our hours.
Although I have been remiss in writing for LOCUS of late, I have all the while been swimming in words. I have filled page after page and my novella is finally finished.
Until recently, a few stubborn problems remained in the book. I struggled to find the words that would solve them. There were days that I felt blocked, moments when the solution for my revisions would not come. I wrote into blind alleys, despaired at ever finding the way.
I thought suddenly of an exercise that was introduced to me during last year’s “How Writers Write Fiction”, a free course organized by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. The exercise focuses on dialogue, and it is an excellent tool for developing characters and tying your story to place. If you’d like to try the exercise for yourself, see my post, “Finding Your Character’s Voice through Place“.
As I applied this exercise to those final problems in my novella, a solution suddenly poured out of me, revisions spanning the entire book. As I wrote, my setting rose up around my characters, rooting them in place. Something deep and rich which transformed the story had been marinating in my brain, taking shape, growing inside of me.
And here I stand, at the winter of this book as it passes away. The next stories in my collection spring forth onto the page, unfolding out of me. I feel words piling up inside of me, and suddenly I feel capable of writing all of them. I know that I can finish them. I will write one book after another, telling all the stories that only I can tell.
Outside, the trees show bursts of red buds and small shoots of green emerge from the ground. New life springs forth, and the whole world seems to be opening before me. I stand in the sun, soaking in the promise of the season.
Winter rolls away from me in time, drawing back against the mountains like a wave.
Need some poetry in your life?
Celebrate National Poetry month with a free course! How Writers Write Poetry will be starting soon after an unexpected delay. There is no fee to join, and the education provided by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is phenomenal. Participating in the class is also a great way to get involved with an international community of writers. This course is designed for those just beginning to write poetry, as well as advanced poets looking to hone their craft.
Join me as I seek music in words, searching for the dance of a poem on the page.