I am a poet, and this is my story of my love affair with words.
I write, but I am no acclaimed poet or novelist. I may never be inducted into the mysterious realm of the important and celebrated poets of the world. But I love words. I love the beauty and passion words can create when arranged in specific lines and stanzas, painted across a page as beautifully as an artist’s canvas. Writing for me was, in the beginning, an experiment of sorts, of wondering what it was like to live a different life. So I created other lives, and the characters became my real friends, incarnated in paper and ink rather than flesh and blood. The teenage angst years were when I truly began to experiment with poetry as a way to flush out the sometimes over-dramatic emotions of being a teenager. Then I heard a song—I always loved music, and songwriters are some of my favorite poets—but this song made me stop in my tracks and say, “Those are my words in his voice. Those are my words in his song.” And that was it—I knew that words would forever be the love of my life.
My teenage angst poetry was not, in fact, poetry—well, it wasn’t publishable, nor did it resemble a honed craft yet. I entered my undergrad as an English major with the questions of what was the essence of poetry, and what could I do to actually write it? The 19th century English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley stated in his essay In Defence of Poetry that a poem “is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth” (405). Poetry “lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar” (406). Poets, he stated, “are the unacknowledged legislators of the World” (410).
I’m quite certain I didn’t – and still don’t—fit the description of being a “legislator of the world,” unacknowledged or otherwise. Frankly, I just love words. I love the look of them on the page; I love the feel of them on my tongue. I love arranging them in phrases and sentences simply to hear how they sound. Although I think my strength in writing is fiction, not poetry, I have reflected on why I choose to verge onto that foreboding path every now and then. Fast forward approximately two hundred years from Shelley to my graduate poetry class: the introductory material to the class stated that poetry “is a concentrated, constructed, concise, and interactive art form: it attempts to convey the human condition briefly in carefully constructed lines, stanzas and forms; with precise language and evocative images; with music created by sound and rhythm.”
I was, and therefore I am, a poet.
I am a reader and listener of poetry also, although my interpretation of someone else’s poem or song may be completely different from the poet’s intent. I find meaning in reading a poem or listening to a song, for the most part, in the same way I get meaning from my own writing. I find even one line that I can latch onto, that I think will be able to describe a human emotion even in its most basic sense, and I throw it out, like a lasso, hoping to catch something meaningful. Because even those who aren’t writers or even readers still have one characteristic in common—we are human.
Writing poetry, however, is very different than reading it. I suppose most writers, no matter which genre they find themselves drawn to, are asked these same questions: what inspires you to write, how do the ideas and stories come into your head, and how do you arrange the words of our language into meaningful expressions?
The answers are, of course, very different for each writer. I am inspired by music. I cannot write or play a note of music (only what I remember from my childhood piano lessons), but I’m moved by the backdrop of the melodies and harmonies. I am compelled to words by “another man’s song” (A Silent Film). The story the words tell in the song and the music that surrounds it intoxicates me emotionally and if I don’t write it out, I may have an emotional hangover. I write to capture a slice of a story, to capture an emotion, to express life in its eternal truth, to represent a part of the human condition. I write when it comes to me, or at me, like an unavoidable car crash. It’s a moment of uniting heart and mind expressed in words. It is in those moments when the heart physically hurts because it cannot contain the emotion inside.
I have been privileged to have met two poets whose words have inspired my ink to flow. My poets are songwriters. Did I mention it’s a type of love story? Then the only way to describe my encounters with them is in a story.
I see him, the poet. Our eyes meet and he holds my gaze, but I’m the first to look away, because my brain has gone as numb as my knees, and my tongue has become a dam, holding back all the things I want to say. When it does let loose, I begin to curse, and not even under my breath. What do I say to a person whose songs have inspired words to take life in me? What do I say to a person whose songs have become the soundtrack to the stories in my head? But there is nothing for it, because if I don’t say something, I never will. So I begin to overflow and drown him with my confessions of how his words have taken up residence in my soul and inspired my own words to free themselves from silence, compelling me to go to the page.
And I take a deep breath. And I write.
I am a poet, and someday, I hope to inspire someone to write as these poets have inspired me. I hope to touch someone the way I have been touched.
I hope to send a spark to someone else’s fingertips.
A Silent Film. “Rustle of the Stars.” Sand and Snow. MTHEORY, 2012. MP3.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. A Defence of Poetry. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. Eds. Joseph Black, et al. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2011. 402 – 410. Print.
I am most gratefully indebted to Diana Webber for her excellent editing skills, and to the two Robs who have inspired and continue to inspire my writing. As always, Shawn and Lily are my reasons.
Where to find Lindsay:
Blog / Twitter
I would like to thank Lindsay for her beautiful guest post and I hope to have her on my blog as a guest often! Please support her by finding her on twitter and following her blog. Thanks everyone!
See you next time,
Here you go:
1. What’s your name?
Angela Rae Harris
2. Where are you from?
I moved through out Utah most of my life. I call Price, Utah my hometown. That is where I graduated high school and I loved living there. Right now I live in Layton in northern Utah.
3. Who are you today?
Today I am a mom who gets to be home with her kids but still has a part-time job which I do from home. I love being able to be there for my kids. I’m luck enough to love my job and people I work with and have the flexibility that I do.
4. What do you do?
Well, today I took my oldest to preschool and then hung out with my two year old. He loves the one on one time he gets when his sister is at preschool. Usually the request is to watch a movie and eat pop corn.
When I have time in between the kids and work, I love to write. Stolen Time is my debut book and it’s official release is tomorrow, October 22nd! I’m very excited!
5. What’s your story (how did you get here)?
Over a year ago I was doing book reviews. After a few months all the stories I was reading where inspiring me to write my own story. I wrote Present Thought and submitted it to a few publishers. I signed with Tri-Destiny Publishing five months later. They encourage me to write a prequel to Present Thought to improve my writing and so that I can get experience in the publishing process. That is how Stolen Time can to be.
6. Why is creativity important to you?
I think it expands your mind. When I watch my five year play and her imagination just takes over, she tell really funny stories. But what you don’t see is that they are leaning. I also think that being creative, in an form, is a stress reliever. I know many people who have etsy stores and I think that they are so talented and skilled. I could never do the things they do. Many of them started their shops because they like when they make things it relaxes them. Then someone saw their work and asked them to make another one.
Doing something creative that you love is like taking your brain out for a nice relaxing walk. Stretching it out and breathing in the fresh air. Its good for you!
7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream to fulfill?
I never saw myself as an author growing up. I found my dream not that long ago and at first I thought it was a silly dream. Then I realized there is no such thing as a “silly” dream and if I wanted to write a book, I should write a book. At first I was writing it for my teenage cousins and thought perhaps that they would be really the only ones to read it. Then I challenged myself. I wanted to publish my story. I had heard stories about how hard it is to find a publisher, and I did get a few rejection letters. They were always positive rejections and full of suggestions. I never really saw the “dark side” of the business. Tri-Destiny Publishing accepted my story and I met my goal. Then I made another goal. That is how you reach your dreams. One goal at a time.
8. How did you embrace it?
One of the many things I find myself telling people who want to write is, “Just write it.” You’ll never reach your goal if you don’t try. That is what I did. I just jumped right into the pool and ignored the cold water.
9. How did that feel?
Cold. haha I’m mostly just kidding! It is a surreal feeling when you reach your goal. Especially that goal at the very top that all your smaller goals are leading to. Then you make another goal. It’s an on going latter, and you just go higher and higher.
10. Where has your journey taken you?
I can now call myself a published author. I’m living my dream.
11. What challenges have you faced?
There are challenges on any road you take. Everything depends on how you face those challenges. Some people see them and turn around and find another path. I think you should ask yourself what will make you happy in the end. If you take an easier path, will you be happy? Or will you be happier knowing that you took your challenges and over came them. I would suggest taking it one step at a time.
12. What worked for you?
I write down my to-do list. It helps me organized my time and keeps me focused on what I need to do. It reminds me to take one step at a time. It also takes my list out of my head so I’m not constantly thinking about everything I have to do. Doing that only makes the list seem longer and more impossible. I’ve done this all my life though. In college that was the only way I could remember what homework I had to do. I was probably one of the few people that actually used that day planner they give you at orientation.
13. What didn’t work for you?
Stressing about it. If what you love doing becomes something you feel miserable doing, then you need a break.
14. What three tips can you share to help others starting on a similar path?
1) Just write it! 2) Everyone has a story to tell. 3) When you want to give up, that is when you shouldn’t. The trail is hardest going up hill but once you reach the top you can look back on all you’ve accomplished.
15. What are you working on now?
Write now I’m doing a blog tour for Stolen Time and also working on Present Thought, the next book in The Time Series.
16. What’s coming up for you in the next year?
Present Thought will release! And more writing. I love doing what I’m doing!
17. What else do you desire/dream to do?
I would love to travel a bit more. I probably won’t get to do that much until my kids are a bit older, but I have fun looking forward to it. I’d also like to have a house in the country soon.
18. How will you make that happen?
Keep working towards it!
19. What one question would you like to answer that hasn’t been asked?
What do I do for fun?
I love the outdoors! Hiking and four wheeling are relaxing for me. I also try to find time to take my kids to the park or on a walk when the weather is nice. Doing things that they love or things they haven’t done before are always fun because you get to see their reactions. We just went to a pick-your-own-pumpkin patch and my two year old loves trackers and has found a love of pumpkins this Halloween season. He was just in heaven because they had a tracker pull a wagon out through the pumpkin patches. Doing things as a family is very important to me.
20. What’s your Web site and/or blog address?
Website is angelaraeharris.com
Blog is angelaraeharris.com/blog
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See you next time,
I never saw myself as an author growing up. Sure, I liked writing those short stories in grade school and I even enjoyed my college English class. I just never thought of writing as my occupation. I saw myself as the dancer, not the choreographer. Or the person who admires paintings, not the artist. I never saw myself as creative. In college I changed my major many times; from Elementary Education to Meteorology until I settled on Interior Design. After three semesters, I got married and dropped out of school. I had a great job working in the business end of health care and I was enjoying being a newly wed. Going back to school wasn’t really on my mind. Then I found myself in a whole new world - motherhood. I became a stay at home mom with no regrets.
I loved spending time with my kids and being there for their first smiles, first laughs, first steps, and first tantrums. By the time my son was ten months old (just over three years into motherhood), I was starting to get lonely. I had always been a social person and it is very hard to hold a sophisticated conversation with a three year old. I also missed being wanted in a work environment and challenging my brain. So, I started to look around for something that involved working with adults.
As I began to look for something stimulating to do during my free time at home, I found a book review site that was looking for reviewers. I wouldn’t have called myself a reader at the time (though looking back, I do think I read more than most teenagers), but I liked the idea of reading free books and giving my brain some exercise. I absolutely loved it. Soon my imagination began to take over. I was having a hard time sleeping because these characters would act out scenes when my eyes where close. Finally, I started writing things down and writing my first book. I also began to sleep better.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Even when I had to stop reviewing and I started a part time job from home (which I love), writing has become a part of me. When I’m able to write, I’m free in my own world. When I’m not able to write, I go through withdrawal. I read to get lost in a new world. I write to get lost in MY world. I was accepted by a publisher and so began the long, sometimes bumpy, road of getting my book published. I have often thought of Tom Hanks’ line as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own – “It’s supposed to be hard! If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great!”
All I want to do is share my world with you. I hope my book can be what some many books have been for me – an escape. And so I write.
This blog is for me to connect with others. Not only about (my) books, but sports, high school, college, being a new parent and outdoor activities. Things that I enjoy chatting about.
I hope you have found a place that will keep you checking in.
See you next time!