February 11, 2016

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" by Connie Inglis

My connecting points with other writers have been few. Yes, I am taking a writing course but that is all done online so there is limited interaction with other writing students. For me the most significant interaction I've had and continue to have is through you, fellow InScribe members. And even then, most of my involvement has been in one of the many InScribe writers' groups. What a beautiful gift from God. If that writing group should end tomorrow, I think that what this group has instilled in me would be more than enough to energize my writing for the rest of my life.

Sound a little dramatic? Maybe. But after meeting together with these fellow-writers for 2 1/2 years, I also believe it to be true. Out of gratitude I wrote a sonnet for the Inscribe Anthology, 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers and I dedicated it to my writers' group.

              As Iron Sharpens Iron

The writer’s road “less travelled by” is fraught
With curves and climbs and questions unaware,
E’en those whose lives in God are soldier-taught
Can find the solo march too much to bear.
So writers too have need of comradeship
To trudge beside when wearisome the way,
For mutual bonds can strengthen and equip
In prayer, united force can fight the fray.
And with each step a surge of hope is found
That bond of perfect Love, it casts off fear,
Then each word written springs from common ground
To own the voice, to fight, to persevere.
As iron sharpens iron dull to bright,
Writers sharpen writers, reflecting Light.
(Dedicated to Writers Café: Edmonton Writing Group)

But why a sonnet you may ask? Well, now is my chance to compare my writers' group to a sonnet. Let me count the ways:
(And here is my disclaimer: Every writing group is different. Since this is the only writing group I know, I am sharing from my heart what I've learned and how I've grown from it.)

1. What is most obvious with sonnets is the structure. They are 14 lines long. My poem is an English sonnet which is comprised of three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet. This is a structure you can rely on in a sonnet. So too in my writers' group--there is a reliable structure. Our monthly meetings are led by an organized leader. I can rely on that. I also know that as I share my heart goals and struggles, my writing goals and struggles, I can rely on the help and encouragement of each member of this group. I have experienced this support multiple times in the last few years and it is good.

2. Within the structure of the sonnet, there is a consistent flow, an iambic pentameter rhythm that is maintained throughout the poem. So too with my writers' group. Yes, there is a rhythm of hearts and dreams but more importantly, there is a God-centered rhythm that begins and ends all our meetings. We seek to write dangerously for God individually and corporately and it is good.

3. A sonnet also has a consistent rhyme scheme within the quatrains and final couplet: abab, cdcd,efef,gg. Just as end words "play" off each other, so too we in our writers' group "play" off each other: bouncing ideas around, giving each other feedback, direction, technology advice. Our monthly prompts have started some exciting ongoing writing. And it is good.

 4. Sonnets explore universal elements of human life with themes such as love, war, mortality, change and hardship. I can honestly say that as writers we have discussed every one of those themes in one way or another within each others' lives. We have shared our weaknesses and strengths. We have battled in spiritual warfare through prayer for each other. We have laughed together and we have cried together. And I know for me I have come out the other end stronger in my faith, with a fresh understanding of God's goodness.

5. Imagery is a vital part of a sonnet, whether it is through word choice or other figurative language. In my sonnet I chose to use the extended metaphor of a soldier's long march. As believers we are all soldiers marching through this life. And when writing is added to the journey, persevering alone is painful drudgery, sometimes impossible. That's why we need each other. That's why I've needed and leaned on my writers' group. They have upheld me with hope and God's love. It is so good.
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 6. The English sonnet ends with a resolution or volta (Italian word for "turn") found in the rhyming couplet. These two lines make a powerful ending statement. That is why I chose the reference to Proverbs 27:17 to end my poem. Being part of a writers' group has sharpened me--not just in my writing but even more importantly, in my faith, in my relationships and in my understanding of the world.

So is that enough to propel my writing life? I think so. And I think too that God looks at it all and says: "It is good."

14 comments:

  1. Yes, it IS good. Beautiful, Connie.

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    1. Thanks Joy. (I really wanted to mention you in this post but thought maybe I should keep it general. But thanks for stepping out in bravery to start our group.)

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  2. YES! I love analyzing poetry (the English teacher in me...) and this post was very inspirational and beautiful - not to mention the poem you write. Love it!

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    1. Thanks Tracy. I sense a kindred spirit with you both as an English teacher and as an artist. That makes my heart smile.

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  3. Your sonnet is lovely and meaningful. Your comparison between the sonnet and a writing group is apt and strong. Within our groups, we do indeed sharpen and spur one another on. Thanks, Connie.

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    1. Thanks Sharon for your kind words.

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  4. As writers sharpen writers, reflecting light … what a well thought and written sonnet. Thank you for the post, indeed you are fortunate to have your group.

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  5. Wow...so much here. I have learned a lot about poetry! Thank you! God is in the midst of our community, safely leading us into what can be very scary (and feel dangerous), this writing journey. You caught all the beauty of that community.

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    1. Thanks Lynn. Your words are always so encouraging.

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  6. Connie, this is a fascinating structure for a post, a a beautiful work of words!

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    1. Thanks Ramona for the encouraging words.

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  7. Wow! It's wonderful that your experience with a writers group has given you so much that you truly see it as a gift from God. Not all of us have found that opportunity yet. I say yet because God does answer prayer and his timing is not ours. I'm sure I'll find that one day but for now I am truly grateful for Inscribe and the feedback I receive when I post. Everything I read here is so different even though we are writing about the same topic. I love your sonnet. Keep writing, my friend.

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  8. Thanks Vickie. Your words are so encouraging. I too love how everyone brings their own voice to their posts--God places uniqueness in each of us. So fun.

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