Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Advice for Young Writers

The two times in life when your brain grows the fastest are at two years and in your teen age. Sometime in your teens you will likely have one watershed experience that will define your life. For me it was the moment I read "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas. For my daughter it was an experience of being born again. Poet William Matthews once spoke about how the great Latin teacher he had in high school influenced him and also remarked that had he had a great chemistry teacher he would have been a chemist. Such is the volatility of your teen years. Thus I say to you:
Rebel, rant, tell off your parents, teachers, the mailman, the garbage man. Write of the deep loves, the embarrassments, the hatreds, the murders you want to commit, the lives you want to take (even if it is your own). Fear nothing and write, scream about it all.
You have more energy, more bubbling in your cauldron now than you ever will again. What you're writing is not poetry but I'll give it fair grades for honesty and life, for excitement. I went to two readings by Lloyd Schwartz at Trinity College, Hartford, CT and found him erudite, skillful and boring, boring as hell. Afterward I found an open mic in some fairly obscure, not-quite-dingy place on campus and heard nothing erudite or skillful but it was exciting, interesting and it lived. I'll take that anytime. As I've heard from several teachers: DON'T BORE ME!!
So, my advice to you is: write. Write anything you goddam well please. And live.
So long for now.

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