“Read five poems for every one you write.”
I read this piece of advice in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Poets & Writers magazine. I nodded my head in agreement. After all, we have to read widely in order to become better writers.
But I also realized this is where I’ve been slipping. I’ve struggled with the past few essays I’ve attempted to write. It’s been frustrating. Just a few days ago, I made a commitment to reading essays specifically. My reading in general is not an issue. But I just haven’t been reading the type of stuff that I want to write.
Brevity‘s new issue came out a few days ago, and I’ve been working my way through each essay. I’m noting the ones that strike me and I’ll go back and analyze them.
Yesterday I read Issue 33 of True Story, “My Monument” by Ander Monson. That’s another place where I’ve slipped. True Story arrives once a month and I usually read it right away. But because I like them so much, I tend to “save” them for later. Well, you can imagine what happens then. They pile up.
This morning I decided to go one step further with Issue 33. Instead of just reading it once and putting it aside, I’m going to deconstruct it and outline it. It’s a great example of a braided essay with plenty of concrete scenes balanced with essayistic meanderings. Just the type of thing I’d love to write.
So I’m amending that piece of advice for myself — read five essays for every one that I write.