Yesterday I wished for a GPS for my current wip. Afterward, I realized I already had one available: mentor texts. Sometimes when I’m at sea and disoriented, choosing a book as my mentor text, my guide, helps me find a direction and answer the questions in my head. I don’t know why I hadn’t yet done it for this project. I think it’s because I have the topical concept of this poetry collection clearly in my head, and I mistook that for the form/feel of the work. So I read through lots of my poetry picture books yesterday and came up with two mentors-in-print.
In the Sea, by David Elliott, has the brevity, language level, variety of moods, and interesting meters/rhyme schemes that I really want to use in this collection. It’s the book I’m going to use as my guide when I’m faltering. Not that my book has anything in common topically, and nobody would ever guess I used it as a guide when I’m finished. But it’s like the North Star of the kind of book I want to end up with for this particular project.
I also pulled out a couple of other beloved books to use as inspiration in very specific ways. I want my poems to be as clean and spare and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ work in Alphathoughts, and I want to infuse some of the wonderful wordplay and humor of Douglas Florian’s Poetrees.
I already feel more on track, because I feel like I have a track, a path, finally. Now I’m ready to really dig into this project with a clear picture in my head of what I hope to end up with.
Lofty goals, clearly. But you have to aim high, right?