Staying Consistent in Art by Amelia Reed

Creative Writing is, in its truest form, a consistent art; one cannot write a poem, take a break for a couple of months, and then come back with the same groove and gusto. Unfortunately, that was nearly exactly what had occurred in my case; after spring break, which began exactly when the lockdown did, I expected to return to creative writing with energy and a sense of eagerness, and, for the most part, I did. I found the poetry unit to be just as interesting and engaging as always, and was excited for the fiction unit which was soon to follow; that is, until the subject of the semesterly film response returned into my line of focus. I knew how to write a film response, of course, and the film I was writing it on had plenty of material for me to flesh out; but for some reason, it simply wasn’t the same. When I wrote, I didn’t feel like a stream of opinionated words flowing onto the page, or even the usual begrudging yet prepared student. It felt as if I had lost everything, all of my knowledge, over the break. It was true that I hadn’t been writing regularly over those few weeks, as my mind had been elsewhere, but I hadn’t expected it to be this difficult to return to my usual flow. When my score for the film response was returned, I had gotten a rather low score on it, which I had expected, and so for the next few weeks I prescribed myself one short prose piece per day in a desperate attempt to regain what talent and vigor I had preceding the lockdown. I will not pretend that I kept consistent with this, nor that I enjoyed it the entire time, but it was eventually fulfilling to be able to sit down and write a quick, sloppy piece about how my day had been and where my mind had wandered during it. Sometimes I would write poetry rather than prose, and sometimes I would simply select a few words which felt “right” and encapsulated the feeling I was going for; and after around a month of this, I could feel my writing coming along much easier and sounding more put-together than it had even before the lockdown.

While it’s difficult to be disappointed in your own work, it is important to keep in mind that growing as an artist is not always a linear path. If I had not noticed the rut I had fallen into, it is unlikely that I would’ve made a deliberate effort to become better; at risk of appearing cliché, a moth must slam itself into the lampshade a couple of times before finding its way to the light bulb. That being said, staying consistent in your writing is a keystone to becoming a better writer, and one cannot improve if they wait to practice their art until it is required. 

I have found myself, nowadays, looking forward to film and reading responses, and the fiction unit is going wonderfully. I still enjoy writing prose or poetry at the end of the day, just to cool down; it helps to remind me that writing is not restricted to schoolwork. Below is a poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago after staring out a muggy window at the cars parked outside and deciding to create something more interesting; some of the lines are reused from previous poems I had discarded, and some don’t mean anything at all, but it captured to the best of my ability how I was feeling at the time.  

Muggy Day “Sonnet”

my fingers, dented with sewing, red, cracked

yellow threads, pepperjack svelte in loose loops 

a lavender sack atop a doll’s back:

tight canvas feels like giggles of bishops 

‘cause what is life but treasuring knick-knacks,

yearning for memories our minds misshape?

and oh, you smell how men describe women

smell like cheap teas and drowsing in public

the doll, animate weight, colour of cumin

in-jokes are mere meat; I’d like a cutlet 

my friends, they oohed at the light, the lumen

the way ripe lavender gives you a lick

remembering is brief and subhuman

Oh, you taste how women describe women

Amelia Reed, Class of ’23