A character in transition is always a good place to start.
I have offered this advice to many writing students over the years. We enjoy reading about characters in the midst of change, characters who face a wall of I can’t do this. They inspire us by taking a leap of faith, even when terrified.
My poem, The 8:08, reflects my own leap of faith. Before writing it, I didn’t feel I had anything to say. The previous day, school had ended. I would not return next year and I had no future plans. How could I write about a void?
Then I remembered a documentary I’d seen recently about the writer Joan Didion. I remembered that she’d said she used a “reporter’s eye,” writing as a an observer to her own life. She wasn’t interested in telling a story; she was interested in telling the truth.
That inspired me. My approach to writing The 8:08 moved from This is what I have to say to Here is where I am.
We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty. It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation. Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.