Writing & intention

It happened again today.

I was walking past someone who was standing and looking at a presentation. Still looking over his shoulder, he started to walk and almost bumped into me. (I put my hand up, kindly and defensively.)

Has this happened to you?

Is it my imagination, or is it happening more and more—people walking along without looking where they’re going?

I blame it on cell phones. We’ve become accustomed to sending our attention elsewhere.

And yes, I’ve been guilty of this, too, so every new encounter serves as a reminder to me.

Enough with the rant—how is this about writing?

It’s about being observant—but it’s also about intention. When you look where you’re going to go, that sends a signal to the people around you (oh, she’s probably going to move in that direction). It communicates your intention.

Writing benefits from intention. You don’t need to tell everything at once or spoon-feed the reader. And in those first drafts, you don’t have to know where you’re going. I’ve heard that it’s better not to know—and I believe it. But by the time you get to the final version, you need to know where the writing’s heading, every twist and turn, each surprise leap—the where and the why. That will help you figure out what you can and want to leave out, what you need to keep. I think intention can help provide that spine Dean Young spoke of and hold all your wildest imagery together.

What do you think about intention? How do you hold your poems together?

Have a safe weekend. Look both ways, and then look where you’re going.