Tag Archives: metaphor

The (Auto)Biographical Act of Story Telling

There is an adage used to help novice and beginning writers to “write what you know.” It is a helpful piece of advice to assist new writers to tap into personal experience to develop an emotional, spiritual, physical authenticity to their writing. It helps to frame the emotional resonance of story that makes a reader want to continue, tapping into the shared emotional journey we all face.

At some point a new writer needs to move beyond this adage and into the broader realms of imagination. Once you understand the emotional focus of the story you are telling, the characters take on a life of their own.

The emotional repertoire at your disposal is based on your own life experiences, stories you’ve heard, read or seen.

But at what point does the author separate herself/himself from the character of the story? How much of a character is a reflection of the author? What is deliberately included or excluded.

The answer to that is up to the individual author to decide. Some authors may make a character a thinly veiled version of themselves or a direct parody. It may even be an autobiographical version in a fictional universe.

For me it is the engagement with the character as presented on the page, their trials, tribulations and triumphs; engaging with the emotional core of who the character is and how I see myself within, or influenced by, the character.

Poetry is perhaps more problematic when using the first person pronoun as it is, I suspect, interpreted by the reader as the persona of the author. This may be true in some cases but what if it is not?

I posted this poem to Twitter recently and use the first person pronouns yet it is not autobiographical, nor is it based on the experience of another.

our intimacy is found 
in the peeling of a mandarin 
damaging the skin to eat 
the flesh inside 
uncertain of a bitterness 
or sweetness

It is drawn from my emotional repertoire, an understanding of human relationships. Is there a part of me in this poem? Perhaps. But it was not written from my perspective. You, as the reader, will not know my intention or purpose; you read the poem as it is and respond to it from your own experiences and perspectives.

Within the act of reading poetry I think we internalise the focus of the poem if it is written in first person, taking on a new perspective and seeing the world as presented through the poem. It is an intimate connection with a text separate from the persona presented or the author’s intent behind the construction.

All of this is academic meanderings, like searching through your underwear drawer for the odd sock to make a pair.

Do you read a story differently to a poem? Why?

The A-Z of Suggestions for Creative People

To misquote Captain Barbossa says, “They’re not so much rules, as guidelines.”

There are multiple permutations of a creative alphabet; your ideas will probably be better than mine. But that’s kinda the point. Listen to the advice, apply it to your work and do it better. Then teach someone else to do it. Pass the knowledge on.

Appreciate new ideas.

Build a body of work.

Collaborate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Critique. Vanilla Ice has wise words when he says, “Stop, collaborate and listen.”

Define your goals as a creative person. Revisit them weekly, monthly, yearly.

Explore what you’re passionate about. And maybe what scares you. You know, for balance.

Foster creative relationships for collaboration, networking and developing the next generation of new artists.

Grow as an artist. Stagnation is for ponds and mosquitoes.

Hunger for the development of your craft and the improvement of your skills.

Inspire others to create because the world needs useless beauty; it is there because it is, and it exists and it is uniquely you.

Jump into new opportunities. But check the depth first.

Kill what distracts you: procrastination, doubt, fear, comparison, jealousy.

Listen at every opportunity. Gather wise counsel and feed your soul.

Meditate on your work, why you do it and write a manifesto.

Network because it’s dangerous to go alone.

Occupy a creative space and protect it.

Publish your work. Whether it’s through your blog when you’re starting out or selling it via Etsy, Ebay or e-commerce.

Query why you are creating. Have you lost sight of your purpose?

Rush a new piece of work and enjoy the frenzy of ideas splashed down like a sudden summer storm.

Spend your time wisely.

Trust in your teachers and mentors.

Understand you are not your creative project; it is an expression of how you see and understand the world.

Vanquish your fears and validate how you feel about what you create.

Welcome feedback, critique, commentary that will help you grow as a creative person.

Xerox another artist’s work to learn how it is created. But show no one else. Learn how to apply it to your own work.

Yoke yourself to an artist further along the road than you. Learn from their guidance that one day you may be yoked to a new artist to teach them.

Zealously demand your need to create; creativity is oxygen to you. Without it you would suffocate.

What would your alphabet of suggestions for creative people be? Write a list, post it to your blog and link back here for everyone to read.

Kintsukuroi – Micropoetry

In my brokenness
I am made beautiful
You collected
the broken pieces
Sealed fleshly wounds
With golden scars
I wear as triumph


This poem was inspired by the Japanese art form of kintsukuroi



I see creativity as an act of creation and as an act of repair. Sometimes it is in the act of creating that a person finds wholeness by putting their emotional and mental trauma and experiences into a work of art. It may be a difficult and draining but it can also be a catharsis, a release, a giving away of the issues and experiences held onto like removing a splinter from under the skin.

Sometimes we need to understand we are broken so we can be repaired and made beautiful again. Creativity is the medium through which it can happen.

What can you make beautiful again?

Toilet Seat – Micropoetry

Toilet Seat

I deliberately
Use the bathroom
After you
And absorb the warmth
Of the toilet seat
To believe you
Still care

Knowledge – Micropoetry


The gaining of knowledge
deteriorates with age
because we know
everything at 18
and realise
we know nothing
the older
we become

Training Wheels – Micropoetry

Training Wheels

I’m too old for these
she said
pointing to
the training wheels
He prays she will
never be too old
to trust
and hold
his hand

Mandala – Micropoetry


She draws on the concrete
a chalk mandala
of wonky butterflies,
stick-figure people.
Tomorrow she will
draw another

Post It Note Poetry #23 – Vision



In the valley I feel
the restrictive comfort
of boundaries
the tangible walls
I cling to
feeling my way through
At the peak of the hill
the vista overwhelms
with no wall
to stabilise and steady
I return to the valley

Post It Note Poetry #10 – Untitled



When my fears

become a turning point

for courage

and my doubts

make me believe

I will know what

it is to stand upon

feet of clay

against the

turning tide

Post It Note Poetry #9 – Scavenging



She throws crusts

to the seagulls

gathers them close

sends the birds scattering

as she runs

kites on invisible strings

the birds return

as though reeled in

to scavenge on what

she feeds them

before she shoos

the birds to the wind


     and again