Post by ScintillaMyntan on Mar 21, 2021 11:00:55 GMT -6
I have a book, Creating Poetry by John Drury, that specifically says in the first chapter, "Poetry is not self-expression," and suggests amateur poetry written for "self-expression" is usually kind of trash. That made me have to think for a bit. Don't we often think of writing as expressing ourselves?
In fact, I'd pulled out the book because I was thinking I'd try writing a poem inspired by my own recent problems, and sure enough, my attempts were pretty bad. My impression of them was they came out as very straightforward, even if I tried to use metaphor. Like the reaction would have been, "ah, okay, it's a poem about that, which you went through, yes" without really producing feeling.
What role, then, should personal emotions have in fiction and poetry? Does your writing have a self-expression component, and how has your life affected what you write? How can a writer make use of personal emotions while still writing well?
I think I get what Drury means. My journal entries are self-expression and they take little effort to write, being just a bunch of private thoughts and feelings I dump out, and surely they're not appealing. Fiction and poetry are different in that they're art first. We write them primarily to produce solid pieces of art, which might express emotions along the way and derive inspiration and power from emotions, but that's secondary.
I've often felt like I 'should' write something that consciously expresses the feelings I have at the time, but in practice, I don't think I ever have, except a little bit as a teenager, badly. Maybe I've figured out some level that it's not that easy to go directly from how I feel to a decent piece of writing. I think it's actually something I could be getting lots more use out of, but I'd have to figure out that proper balance of expression and artistry and get over quite a bit of embarrassment and fear over writing something so personal. I think it'd also be beneficial for me, more as a person than as a writer, to write some fiction that touches on issues I have trouble dealing with.
I'll close with another quote from Creating Poetry that I found looking up 'emotion' in the index because surely he had more to say on it than that: "Many of us begin writing poems because we need an emotional outlet. That kind of writing may have therapeutic value, but a real poem has to embody an emotion — giving it life, articulating it in gripping words, transforming it into a vivid experience the reader can undergo — not just express an emotion. Wordsworth says that poetry springs from emotion 'recollected in tranquility,' but it takes a special effort to cultivate that tranquility, to channel our emotional flood tides."