Poetry: More Than Just Pretty Words

I was delighted last week when I found out I was getting my interactive fiction story Today I Will Leave published and didn’t think anything better would happen to me in a while. But I was wrong! The other day I got an email from Richy at Fade telling me a poem I’d submitted will be published in the next few weeks. From months of no success to two in such a short space of time has left me on cloud nine.

I’ve had a couple of poems published before, years ago when I was tentatively stretching my writing muscles to see what I was capable of. But the poetry fell by the wayside when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it as a writer and my creativity was put on hold for a number of years. And when I got back into writing, it was stories I was interested in, not poetry.

A couple of months ago however I was out for my daily walk when an idea popped into my mind. It was inspired by my surroundings; I could visualise it and knew what words I needed to use. I also knew it had to be a poem. It’s rare for this to happen so I made the most of it and scribbled it down. After a bit of revision I had molded it into a shape that pleased me and sent it away. 

It was rejected.

Without changing anything, I immediately sent it somewhere else (Fade) and it was accepted. This just proves how tastes vary from editor to editor.

I’ve written a couple of other poems since, one of which I’m still waiting to hear back from. I enjoy writing poetry; there’s an immediate feeling of satisfaction (if you can find the right words) that doesn’t come with penning a story. Poems are generally shorter and more intense and a great way to practise structure and description. However, unlike with writing stories, I can’t write poetry all the time. I can usually sit down and crank out a few hundred words of a story, even if I don’t feel like it. I can’t do that with poetry. Maybe it’s because every word seems to count right from the start whereas with stories they are usually edited after the initial splurge.

However I find writing poetry helps me with my fiction writing. Writing a scene or a character sketch using limited words and descriptive techniques can help capture an idea or a feeling and leads to tighter writing generally. Thinking about where to place a particular word or phrase in a poem often means doing it automatically when writing a piece of prose.

Does anyone else use poetry to aid their fiction writing?

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2 thoughts on “Poetry: More Than Just Pretty Words

  1. Congratulations on another publishing success!

    I’ve never really attempted to write poetry (apart from a very poor Christmas effort last year) and it is probably something I would feel more comfortable with trying when I finally get a bit of success in getting my short stories etc. published.

    • Thanks again! Writing poetry can be a bit daunting at first and it’s not for everyone but it can be refreshing trying something different. I understand the feeling that it’ll be easier once you’ve mastered another form of writing though. I’m too impatient and need to try everything at once!

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