Broken-down Poetry: Go get a life


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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go get a life

At a panel discussion with top literary magazine editors at the College Media Advisers NYC conference Monday, a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke came up. You've heard it before: "Write what you know." One of the editors pointed out that Rilke didn't stop there. He said, right what you know, but if you don't have anything to write about - go get a life.

Let's be honest here: I don't have much of a "life." Forgetting my Iraqi escapade, I've lived my whole life in the Midwest, I have a normal family, I go to college. I don't have a lot of interesting things to write about.

So. What do I do?

I get a life. I find adventures to write about.

But I don't think that means I have to travel abroad every summer either. I think I can find adventure here (okay, I'm in New York as I write this. Here as in Marion). I think that if I look hard enough (or broad enough) I can find adventure wherever I am.

I just need to find the excitement in the ordinary, everyday.

It's not that I have to lie and pretend something's exciting like I do on Twitter. (Whoa! #awesome sandwich I'm eating! #yummy!) I can just have a different perspective on something.

This trip I'm on, for example, has been quite the adventure. School trips are, in theory, supposed to be kind of lame. Or typical.

Well, we're staying at a church in a rougher part of Brooklyn with the kindest church members taking care of us. We're a group of students with very diverse personality traits. We have gotten lost who knows how many times. Our internet is shoddy, so we've been improvising with our homework. (I've had to dictate an email to my boyfriend over the phone so he could write and send it for me.)

It's been an adventure.
And it's something to write about.

So, in response to the Rilke quote, I'd say, yes. Find adventure. But don't assume adventure only involves foreign countries, passionate romances or danger.

Adventure could be right in front of you.

Scriptwriting Archive:
Broken-down Poetry, and what it means
The strenuous marriage of writing
Poetry as Therapy, pt. II
Sh*tty First Drafts

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