When I was little, I was often bored in school. I know, hard to believe. I would cut up paper, write little stories of a native American tribe I created and illustrate them instead of paying attention to whatever I supposed to be learning. Especially if it was math. In fact, in junior high algebra, I remember writing a hilariously over-the-top soap opera I called ‘As The Stomach Turns’ and creating portraits of the characters. Wish I had that script now!
As I got older, I turned to journaling – it was quite the vogue at the girls’ school I attended and turns out to be good practice for a wannabe writer. The poetry just grew from that, I suppose. I’ve always loved poetry – my Dad used to read it to me a lot and I loved the rhythm, the rhyme, the alliteration and imagery. So naturally, I tried to emulate those things. I’ve had some successes with my poetry and while I was earning my degree, I was lucky enough to take a class in poetry from the amazingly talented Marilyn Chin.
Back then, Marilyn was the one who told us that her friend Amy Tan got a huge advance for her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, while poets – even published poets – got no advances. I’ve never forgotten those words of wisdom.
Marilyn also told me that no one gets their first poem published, and of course the first one I sent out did get published. I was one of eight lucky people to be chosen to have our work published in the American Kennel Club’s Gazette. Naturally, it was a poem about a dog and my writing group hated it because I personified the dog – a major no-no for serious poets. However, there’s always that other rule to remember: know your audience. I did.
So what’s the moral of today’s post? None really except that we all adapt and change and sometimes you have to break the rules. So go forth and conquer and remember, if the rules don’t make sense, maybe it’s time to break them!