Courage and Trust in Yourself

By Joe Tsujimoto

First: As you write, as you remember and invent, the more you'll be able to remember and invent. What to write in the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next chapter? Just look back at what you've already written–where lie the Seeds of the Future.

Second, always seek feedback before going public with your writing. I trust my fellow writers and especially my wife to give me the Straight Dope on my writing. And often, they tell me how to fix whatever might be irrelevant or ugly.

Third, if you've gone on some length for a while–and things don't seem to cohere—keep going. For, as experienced writers and artists know, things will eventually come together. This is a matter of Courage and Trust in yourself.

Fourth, keep putting things out there; submit your works everywhere. The thing is to Keep in Action. It's a small pleasure to check your mailbox or inbox everyday. Sure, you'll get rejections. So what? We all get them. Lots of them. So what? Just keep sending your work out again and again. Keep on Trucking!

Fifth, let me end with an excerpt from Stanley Kunitz's famous poem "Touch Me":

Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells.
And like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.

Joe Tsujimoto has published two teacher texts: Teaching Poetry Writing To Adolescents (NCTE/ERIC) and Lighting Fires: How the PassionateTeacher Engages Adolescent Writers (Heinemann). He has also published a collection of short fiction, Morningside Heights: New York Stories (Bamboo Ridge), which was a finalist for the 2010 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Winner of the 2008 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, Tsujimoto teaches 8th graders English at Punahou School.

Talk story

  1. Raydeen219 says:

    Mr. Tsujimoto, so wonderful that you're still teaching me after all these years! Lovely article about inspiration… Mahalo!

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