Thursday, May 10, 2007

Advice for a young writer (or any writer!)

I'm writing an article for a magazine aimed at young artists of all sorts - writers, dancers, actors, visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers. My assignment is to interview noted arts professionals and ask them what they'd say to emerging artists to help them make their work shine, shout out, be noticed.

When I interviewed poet David Lee - Lee was one of the top two candidates for the post of Poet Laureate of the United States the other year and has been called the Mark Twain of humorous poetry - he offered these four nuggets:
1. Believe in yourself. This above all else, to thine own self be true, Polonius from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
2. Have a commitment to what you do. You were probably chosen to be an artist: the words choose the writer.
3. Have an audience in mind. I pick people and write my poems to them. When I think they would like it, it's probably well-written.
4. Be well-read: fifty percent of good writing is good reading.

Nature note: The Indian paintbrush in our restored shortgrass prairie front yard are beginning to bloom, along with the sidebells penstemon with their lavender flowers. The pasque flowers have been replaced by wild Phyllis-Diller-hair seedheads, and the swallowtail butterflies have begun to emerge, fluttering across the yard by ones and twos. In the kitchen garden, my tomato plants have their first buds, and the peas are climbing the trellis. Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is less than a month and a half away!

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