Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Artist Speaks in Poem #326

Photo by Amy LV

Students - as I sat down to write yesterday, I felt discouraged.  The past couple of weeks have brought some manuscript rejections, and I was wondering about my own ability and if I could find another poem to write.  But a promise is a promise!  And I believe that the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it.

So, when I settled down on the hardwood floor (by the heater) with a pencil and stack of unlined paper, I just listened.  And this artist spoke to me.  In a way, you could say that today's poem is a pep talk to myself and to all of us who wish to make things, all of us who worry that we don't measure up.  But daily work, perspiration, and dedication make us who we are.  Even when we are frightened, we must show up to our work.  This is how it grows.

When you are feeling down, listen to the advice that echoes from deep within you.  Listen with your pencil, and maybe one of those voices-from-beyond will pour out onto the page.  Maybe it will give you strength, as I got from this artist voice.

Cynthia Rylant's picture book, ALL I SEE is one of my favorite books about the power and mystery of art.

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I claim to be a man of less than average ability....I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make  the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith.  - Mahatma Gandhi

(Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.)


  1. Amy - I heard an interview the other day. A musician was describing his writing process, and he said he never waits for inspiration to write. Instead, he treats writing like a job and hopes it will pay him back. Your post made me think of that. And for what it's worth, you shouldn't doubt your talent - you have it in spaes. How many great authors had their names in the greetings of numerous rejection letters?

  2. Bill, Thank you so much for your kind comment. I really agree with that musician. Inspiration is a lovely visitor, but hardly a reliable one! A.

  3. I love this conversation with yourself. We all have so many voices, the ones that get discouraged, the ones who get us back to paper. I've been going through a rough period, too, and sometimes complain to my husband who patiently waits it out, and I can tell those eyes are thinking: you've been through this before, you'll come out the other end. And I do.

    Yay on rejections, as we say in our writing group, because it means you're sending things out. And sweeter letters will follow.

  4. I have joined Franki's ebook talk about "Fires in the Mind". This poem makes me think about all the author says it takes to become an "expert". The importance of practice, hard work, and persistence in the process.

    Your poem reminds me of the importance of hard work in achieving our goals. (I'm always so amazed by your ability to add a poem each day. I know it can't always be easy. Talk about persistence!)

    Thanks for sharing your talent with all of us.

  5. Jeannine, You are so right. It seems that part of this is figuring out which voices to listen to. I'm sorry you're going through the doldrums too, and I greatly appreciate your words about the "Yay." It takes a friend to remember this! A.
    Cathy, I was so curious about that ebook talk! That book looks great. Thank you for your note. This blog discipline has taught me a lot more than writing! I'm so grateful to have met people like you. A.

  6. I can't wait to share this poem with my students. They will be stunned to learn that it doesn't always come easy. Thanks for showing this side so openly.