After many classes and club meetings and readings I have come to one opinion about writing that I feel compelled to share. I would rather read nothing than read one more poem about that summer on the beach with the waves going back and forth and how it is the perfect metaphor for your first love.
I feel very strongly that all writing needs to be about something and that those things should be fully grounded in concretes. That being said, some topics are better than others.
I have heard countless metaphors about the ocean. How it holds a special memory. How things were so great back then with the late night bonfires and the relaxed kisses. For some reason people associate the ocean with idealistic memories and when things were simpler. I associate the ocean with never feeling quite clean and that little bit of grit left over that never ever leaves. An ocean theme better be pretty darn well done if I am going to read past the word “sand” without regretting it.
First love might be even worse. I have issues with idealism. I have issues with the concept of love. First love seems to be the worst of both of these things. If I wanted to hear about your first time…well, I don’t know what I would do because I absolutely never want to hear about your first time. That goes for the obvious breakup as well. Did it twist your world and change how you saw things? Are you a wiser person now? Or even worse, did it not really change anything because you grew apart but still hold some idealized view of it all? Good for you. File these things under “Poems/Stories that don’t need to be written.”
Frankly, anything that is standard in a coming-of-age story (first kiss, broken heart, first job, that one time you fought with your parents) should be approached with caution. You better find a really unique way to approach the telling or you will be swallowed up in a sea of similarity, a tide of mundanity, a veritable ocean of water if water was writing that was just like yours if you will. You are just one grain of sand on a beach and the chances that you are the grain of sand that tags along in the luggage and stays with the person is slim.
People who write about things that are bigger than themselves are the ones with the best chance. So start with an idea so big that there is no way you could reasonably fully explore it and then start tethering it with concretes. Narrow it down to the parts you can explain. Provide examples. And if you started with love and narrowed it to a snapshot of a feeling shown through first love on a beach then at least you can justify throwing my words back in my face.