Today I am excited to share this guest post by award-winning author Tessa Emily Hall. Please give her a warm welcome in the comments below!
I first learned about the poet, Emily Dickinson, in my eighth grade English class. My classmates had laughed about her life story and made jokes about her hard-to-interpret poetry; me, on the other hand? I became enthralled. This poet had not only written unique poetry, but she had also lived quite a mysterious and unique life.
Fast forward several years, when I first began to brainstorm my novel, UNWRITTEN MELODY. The main character was a mysterious and shy songwriter who, like Dickinson, led a sheltered life. I had somehow allowed Dickinson’s life story to influence Cassie’s story without it even realizing it! Even the theme of hope in the book is perfectly reflected in one of Dickinson’s poems titled Hope is the Theme With Feathers.
Of course, after realizing that, I began to examine my own life to see how I compared to the poet as well. I wasn’t surprised to discover the many ways in which I could relate with Dickinson. (No wonder I found this poet to be so fascinating in eighth grade!)
No, you don’t have to write hard-to-interpret poetry in order to become the next Emily Dickinson. This poet is known for far more than just her thousands of poems that are in print. So how can you know if you are following in this sheltered writer’s footsteps?
You might want to check for these five signs…
- You don’t abide by popular styles and trends.
When it came to poetry, Dickinson was the first to throw out the popular writing rules of her day. This is why it was difficult for her to find publication during her lifetime; in fact, she didn’t rise to fame until after her death.
- You don’t leave the house very often.
Dickinson stayed in her bedroom and wrote poetry for days on end. When someone visited the house, she would speak to them from the other side of the door. Although she was rarely seen in the public, she communicated frequently to friends via snail mail (AKA today’s version of social media and email). Sound familiar?
- You keep your art hidden in a private space.
After Dickinson passed, her sister discovered thousands of her unpublished poetry. Only twelve of her poems were published during her lifetime.
- The purpose of your creative outlet is for the sake of your own sanity rather than in effort to please others.
It’s obvious that Dickinson wasn’t motivated to write by the idea of publication or applause; rather, she wrote for herself. It wasn’t worth it for her to alter the style of her writing just for the sake of receiving favor from publishers.
Writing was Dickinson’s way of expressing her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I don’t doubt that she used it as a form of therapy. (Which she could’ve probably benefitted greatly from, based on how many hours she spent in her bedroom by herself!)
- Your art tends to reflect the darker side of life.
Many people believe Dickinson struggled with bipolar disorder. Traces of her depression are exposed in much of her poetry. Does your art reflect optimism or pessimism?
As I brainstormed UNWRITTEN MELODY and discovered that Cassie’s life mirrored Dickinson’s, of course I had to give Cassie an obsession with this poet as well. She even discovers, in the book, that she has many of the “symptoms” that are on this list. When Cassie realizes this, she becomes determined to live life to the fullest and strives to avoid following in Dickinson’s footsteps.
If you, too, possess many of the above signs, then it might be time to evaluate your creative life and keep yourself from becoming the next Dickinson. How?
Here are a few quick tips that might help you lead a more balanced (and productive) creative lifestyle:
- Get some fresh air. Take a walk. Change locations and, if possible, work from a coffee shop, library, or bookstore.
- Socialize. (Yes, with actual people.)
- Leave it to your siblings to publish your writing. (Kidding, of course.)
- Stay passionate about your art, but don’t allow it to become an obsession.
- Keep your family first.
- Don’t be afraid to release your work to the public.
- Make sure that your health is a priority and in balance. If you find that your physical or mental state of being is headed off track, seek help.
QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
How many of these signs did you possess? Have you ever been intrigued by the life of Emily Dickinson as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
2017 Moonbeam Bronze Medalist Winner
2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Young Author
Does breaking free require breaking the rules?
Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.
James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.
As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder–did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?
Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.
About the Author
Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to remind teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is through connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: http://www.tessaemilyhall.com.
Tessa is represented by Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency.
Ways to connect with Tessa: