Read a lot. But read as a writer, to see how other writers are doing it. And make your knowledge of literature in English as deep and broad as you can. In workshops, writers are often told to read what is being written now, but if that is all you read, you are limiting yourself. You need to get a good overall sense of English literary history, so you can write out of that knowledge.
.. We have, each of us, a story that is uniquely ours, a narrative arc that we can walk with purpose once we figure out what it is. It's the opposite to living our lives episodically, where each day is only tangentially connected to the next, where we are ourselves the only constants linking yesterday to tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with that, and I don't want to imply that there is by saying how much this shocked me -- just that it felt so suddenly, painfully right to think that I have tapped into my Long Tale, that I have set my feet on the path I want to walk the rest of my life, and that it is a path of stories and writing and that no matter how many oceans I cross or how transient I feel in any given place, I am still on my Tale's Road, because having tapped it, having found it, the following is inevitable..
Although I've written a few (a few) poems over the years, I am not a natural poet.. And I remain in awe of people who are. The ability to evoke deep emotion, reveal a new facet of the world, or condense an entire story into the limited space and form of a poem (or likewise, of a good song lyric, or the text for a children's picture book) seems like pure magic to me.
It's my birthday, by the way, and as of 2: 05 this morning (the time of my birth in the middle of a snow storm on the Fort Dix army base in New Jersey) I'm 52 years old. I decided to say that because there's such in our culture for women.. Well, for everybody.. To stay perpetually young. And that's never going to change if we (women especially) don't embrace, enjoy, and take pride in each and every age that we pass through. I'm not young, I'm half a century old, and grateful to have made it this far. And I have this to say to the young women coming on behind me: 52 feels pretty damn good!