I suspect that today will be one of those days when I feel that I have no time to write. And then I remember Leslie's post which gives great advice for those kinds of days. She talks about the time and inspiration lost when we glue our faces to our smartphones at every free minute. She talks about getting up to write when you can't sleep; or if you can't face leaving your comfy bed, lie there and plot the next bit of your novel or figure out where that essay wants to go.
She talks about the value of writing prompts: "Don’t be snobby about writing prompts. There’s something about the prompt process that is especially helpful. If I say, “Write a short story in fifteen minutes,” either you’re rolling your eyes or you’re quaking in fear. If I say, “Write about snow for fifteen minutes,” you can get going. And who knows what will result?"
She also talks about starting a prompt group: "No one manages time better than a busy person. START a prompt group yourself, either with friends or strangers. They don’t have to be professional writers, just people who are interested in writing. If you make a commitment and put a date on the calendar, there you’ll be…writing."
For most of us, we understand the value of a creative group. If you're in the mood for an article about the power of the writing group, don't miss this one in The New York Times. The article looks back at the Dark Room Collective, and it considers the generation of African-American poets which came after the various poetry movements of the 1960's, most notably the Black Arts Movement.
I found this paragraph particularly inspiring: "Scholars say that what has grown from the collective is a boom in African-American poetry that’s arguably as aesthetically significant in the writing world as the work of the Beat Generation, the New York School, the Fugitives, the Black Arts Movement, even the Harlem Renaissance. Influenced by pioneers like Rita Dove, this group’s work departs stylistically from much of the black poetry that preceded it: It’s less about strife or racial identity than it is about the imagination taking wing, leading the poets to borrow from, and burrow into, history, pop culture, even quantum physics in new and surprising ways."
Think about the work of Natasha Trethewey, Nicky Finney, and Tracy K. Smith, for example.
Of course, we're not all going to change the trajectory of literature, and it's important to remember that we see these poets doing so only when we look back in retrospect. I love the way the article ends: “The ambition was to be creative,” she [one of the group's founders] said. “It wasn’t this grand scheme of, ‘Oh, we’re going to take over American letters.’ ”
A good ambition for today: to be creative.
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