Browsing my news feed a few days ago, I came upon a poetry page where someone posted a poem about growing up with a father who was not very tolerant of other races beside his own, and used very abusive and inappropriate language while expressing himself on the issue. There was a disclaimer at the top, in fear that someone might get offended at the words used. I replied to the poet:
You don’t have to apologize for what you experienced. It is beautifully written and so sorry you had to endure this. Keep writing from the heart!
Most poets have lived through some kind of turmoil and writing is our therapy. We often write for ourselves; to sketch the pain on paper in the form of words, hoping they give us a brief moment of peace. But sometimes there might just be another out there who experienced the same thing or currently facing a difficult time, and need to read the words written to realize they are not alone in their battles. So our writing is not necessarily for our own use, but to reach those who are unable to express their feelings.
My father was abusive to my mother, and often I feel compelled to write about the experiences not only with him, but about family members who tried to justify the way he behaved. They are moments from my childhood I cannot forget, and writing about it eases the pain I still feel from the scars he left behind. What is even more fulfilling is when I get comments from others who have lived with an abusive spouse or parent, and it gets them to open up and tell their story. Because of positive input I receive, I continue to write about the horrible things he did and how my family was able to overcome it all, as someone else may need to hear it.
For me, pain is easy to write about, but what about love? Most people who are single or in a bad relationship probably don’t want to read sappy love poems. But not everyone who has found a soulmate endured an easy journey. Some of us have made bad choices, had our heart broken more than once, or let the right one slip away. It is a chance to write about the hardships of love and share that hope is still out there. The world is filled with tattered souls who need to read that love is worth fighting for.
There are many who are under a lot of stress, and it is so easy to get frustrated and angry when things are not going your way. You have a choice to write about those frustrations or turn the experience into something positive. People can relate to either one. Some readers may love that you are expressing the distress of road rage or the chaos of being a working parent, while others may just need a few pleasant words to calm their turbulent minds. Whichever you write about, know that there is someone already in your shoes who will appreciate your words.
If you are a poet, the best advice I can give you is the same I told the one above – Don’t stop writing from the heart. Don’t force it or try to emulate another. Write from your experiences and your observations. You are not only writing for your own peace of mind, but for an audience who can relate to your words. So who are you writing for?
Written by: Donna J. Sanders
Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia – a poetry collection about the struggles we face, the state of the world and how to see beauty in the simplest things, and Cardboard Signs – poems to bring awareness about homelessness, mental illness, self-esteem and the injustices many face.
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Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders
Categories: Writing Tips