Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”
For what did Dante climb the winding stair?
A burning and a piercing Charity
That flamed with geometric clarity—
Not Beatrice, but what she wished to share.
She was the first, but not the Final Vision;
Although her face was what had fueled his flight,
Her purpose was to help him to prepare
‘Til, in the deepest bosom of the night,
With certain and inexorable precision,
He saw the Point of unrelenting Light,
Infinitely small—and infinitely bright.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!
Donald T. Williams, PhD
For my fiction writing class this semester, my professor asked for us to read Stephen King’s book On Writing, the famous author’s personal reflection on writing. Toward the end of his book, he discusses revision and its importance to the art of writing. But King implies something about revision, especially peer editing, that I have seen as a theme in my own writing, both academic and fictional. By giving his story to a peer, King exposes his flaws to the world, but he does so willingly so he can become a better writer and the story can become a better work of art. In a sense, King had to embrace vulnerability and correction to ensure the quality of his craft.
I too have learned to embrace vulnerability as a writer. Like King, I had to allow others to look at my work and comment on it with the understanding that they want to help me make it better. At first, I was angry that some people were so cynical toward my writing, especially the professors on my thesis committee or my peers in my fiction writing class; however, they truly wanted to make it better and help me improve by pointing out the flaws in my thesis and stories. So, I manned up and made the corrections. Now my thesis is a published work, and my stories are significantly improving.
Most people have an aversion to correction, no matter the capacity. Nobody really wants to hear he or she is wrong. But sometimes the best instruction we can receive from others is constructive criticism. Proverbs 12:1 states, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid” (NIV). “Stupid” here means brutish, foolish, irrational—essentially inhuman. I am not saying that anyone that does not take correction easily is foolish. No, taking criticism is hard sometimes, even by the wisest and most humble of people. But by opening up to others and accepting their correction, we show we love others by seeking improvement through a suppression of our own impulsive and prideful desire to grow in a vacuum. Through love, we put “childish things away,” as the Apostle Paul states, for children eschew correction and vulnerability, and transform into men and women ready to serve our Lord through our writing and our lives.