By: Rebecca Carey
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
So during my freshman year of college I took a introduction to poetry class where one of our projects was to research a poet from a predetermined list and at the end of the semester give a presentation on them, their life, their work, and what influenced them. I read through the poets' names and couldn't find one that was calling to me so I chose Mary Oliver at random.
Of course, as a freshman, I didn't start working on this project until a couple days before it was due. I learned about her life and her accomplishments and I found my favorite poem by her "Sleeping in the Forest." I gave a quick presentation on her for my final project for the class and then thought I'd be done with poetry.
Later on down the road I took a creative writing class and one of the subjects we discussed was poetry. We tried out different forms and shared our successes during class. One of the assignments was to imitate a poet's poem and we would present it at a later date during class. I went back to Mary Oliver and her poem "Sleeping in the Forest" because she was one of the only poets I knew. I found that to get into the mindset of writing an imitation poem I needed to do further research on Oliver, what made her tick, and why she wrote about the subjects she did.
I went on to find interviews she had with reporters and journalists and I discovered some of her quotes that I now try to live by. One of which I know keep on my FB profile:
I decided very early that I wanted to write. But I didn't think of it as a career. I didn't even think of it as a profession.... It was the most exciting thing, the most powerful thing, the most wonderful thing to do with my life. And I didn't question if I should - I just kept sharpening the pencils!
I know not everyone will read her quotes the same way I do but I find inspiration in the way she speaks and how she feels about her writing. I believe that finding Mary Oliver and her work has helped me find myself as a writer and her quotes have helped me continue to push on with my own work even when I feel as though nothing is going right. I would encourage any writer to do the same and find an author that speaks to you because sometimes finding inspiration to keep going is a hard road to travel.
I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.