One of my all-time favorite poets since I was a child is Emily Dickinson. Her poems were beautifully simple and readable, easy to memorize, with a haunting profoundness that grows deeper each time I revisit her poetry.
Not only was I a fan of her writing style, but I was also enamored of the mythology of her life, how she diligently wrote her poems, almost 1800 poems, most of them unpublished during her lifetime. I imagined how she was someone who wrote tirelessly at night, savoring the poems for herself and her few chosen loved ones. Then she carefully stored them in a large chest, and they never again saw the light of day, not while she was living.
This is something that I really admired about Emily Dickinson, her quiet, private diligence and the fact that she wrote for herself, not for anyone else. There was a purity to this act of writing that I emulated and felt was perhaps the purest form of self-expression, especially those bold emdashes in place of commas or periods.
Writers write for different reasons, many public, many more private. So many of writers have that goal of being published, perhaps indulging in their dreams of what being an author entails vs the reality of writing. Some write and it feels to the reader as if these writers are most concerned in demonstrating their extensive and polysyllabic vocabulary. Some write and you can tell the draft just needs more work. Also, there’s the common joke among writers that writing is cheaper than therapy.
How to be a writer? Write like Emily. Spill out the strange fears of your soul onto the page and propel your syntax forward with bold emdashes. Just write.
Write Like Emily