I had visited San Clemente as part of an SCBWI-LA group outing. While touring Casa Romantica, I found a display of local artwork from the San Clemente High School students and I was inspired to write two poems.
I wanted to let the students know they had inspired me, and to request permission to use a copy of their artwork on my site, so I had called the school and gotten the contact information for the art teacher so I could email him and ask him to pass on the message to his students.
As a result I struck up a correspondence with the two students who had inspired me. Through Tate Murphy, whose artwork (A Reflection of True Colors) had inspired my poem “The Colors in a Black and White World”, told me today that her English teacher somehow got an email about me and printed out my poem to share with the class.
The teacher had the whole class analyze my poem and apparently everyone loved it.
This has been a more rewarding experience than any of my previous publications. Like Mr. Gaiman said, as a writer I’ve sent out hundreds of messages-in-bottles and I almost never expect anything back. And wow!
First, I’ve never had much of a proper education in writing poetry. I started by rhyming things, playing with rhymes, then writing down thoughts that had their own sort of rhythm. I think my actual education in poetry is about two hours of looking up different words like “haiku” and “limerick”. So that an English class analyzed my poem and actually liked it is one of those things I never expected to happen.
The second thing is that (also harking back to Mr. Gaiman) I wrote this poem in about eight minutes because the artwork had a story that needed to be told, and I wrote it out of passion for the subject, not with any agenda to be properly versed or anything. I hardly edited it from the first draft. I emailed the art teacher to let the student know that her art had had that kind of impact, and I shared my poem so that the student would get to see what her message-in-a-bottle had resulted in.
These are the moments when all the hard work is worth it, and I am grateful to have lived to experience it. I’ll likely end up writing a story about it somewhere down the road.