Written by Abi Humber Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:16
I think I want to be a writer. In fact, I’m almost positive. I saw “The Help” about a week ago, which really solidified that desire in my heart.
If you’ve seen the movie and/or read the book—which everyone absolutely must do—and can recall Emma Stone’s character, just pretend that’s me. That’s who I want to be.
That’s not what I want to get into right now, though. Maybe another time.
But what kind of a writer will I be if I can’t even conjure up solid column ideas on a weekly basis? This is the question I ask myself every single time I sit down to write.
You’re pathetic. Your words are petty. Who cares?
This is what I say to myself as my fingers begin to dance across the keyboard. I try to stop those thoughts when I hear my mother’s voice in my mind telling me to “play the positive tape,” but it’s not usually easy.
I come across hundreds of ideas throughout the week that I write down and mull over, but those thoughts never seem to formulate into anything substantial.
My brain is full of partially processed observations and opinions—ample material to keep me awake at night but never enough to complete a work of art that I’d be excited to share with the world.
My high school English and journalism teacher, Mr. Woelk (aka “Bobby”), always told me that I needed to read good writing to know how to write well. He had his students read newspaper stories to learn how other writers formulate leads and use the inverted pyramid method. This simple piece of advice is something I’ve carried with me since I was 15.
I want to be the kind of writer whose words change something deep inside my readers. I want people to read my work aloud and get goosebumps when the straying streams of syllables finally converge and everything makes sense. I want them to shudder when they realize they’ve caught a glimpse of a new world.
It’s clear that I’m not there yet. Sometimes—OK, most of the time—I’m scared that I’ll never get there. But, with Bobby Woelk’s voice echoing in my ears, I realized the first place to start is by exposing myself to the kind of writing I’d like to emulate.
This is why I love Tyler Knott’s poetry. Google him. You’ll probably end up at his Tumblr site, where he posts his photography, daily haikus on live, blackout poems, and longer, free-verse poetry. He’s incredible.
Another of my recent interests has been spoken-word poetry. I’ve killed hours upon hours on YouTube, following link after link to videos of artists pouring their hearts out in rhythms and rhyme. Three of my favorites are “Pretty” by Katie Makkai, “B” by Sarah Kay and “Milos” by Anis Mojgani. Check them out.
I listened to each of those at least twice each as I tried to write this, and it helped.
Sort of. A little.
I guess this is where growth comes from. I’ve known for a long time that there’s an enormous gap between who I am and who I want to someday be, and now I finally have the motivation to overcome my self-doubt, prove myself wrong, and become that person.