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Amanda Klasen from Michigan, USA, is an English and Communications major at Spring Arbor College. She's determined to be a writer, and has only recently discovered the fact that she already is a writer, even if she hasn't published as much as she would like. Her relationship with her muse seemed veiled in smoke, until it came to her -- like a flash

My Muse Is Fire
Jean Lowe
Writing Lives - A Weblog


Introducing Amanda Maruhn

Amanda reflects on her desire to be 'The Great-Great Granddaughter of Emily Dickinson'

The Ides of March . . . May 5th, St. George's Day, and the Mexican's Cenco de Mayo . . . All Hallow's Eve. The calendar is scattered with times when we are to pause and take time to remember those who are no longer with us, warnings that we ourselves are here only for an allotted time. How do we honor those great writers of the past?

One way I choose to do this is by claiming a writer for my heritage. I have chosen Emily Dickinson to be my great-great grandmother. She isn't really, of course. She never married, and had no children, let alone grandchildren and other descendants. And while I respect and admire her poetry, I can't claim that I write like her, either.

In the course of her lifetime, Dickinson wrote more than a thousand poems. There is daily writing for you! Born in 1830, she lived as a recluse for most of her life, until her death in 1886. Taking her prolific writing, averaging it by the span of her life, and factoring in the historians guess of the date she wrote her first poem, she wrote a minimum of five poems a day. She left a legacy of words, sculpted into verse, shining forever with her ideas. I claim her for my ancestor.

I have a loving family, one with some particularly gifted story-tellers, but no writers. Because I want a heritage to strengthen my spirit, I have decided to make Emily Dickinson my Gramma. I can sit down with a particularly difficult bit of writing, and make it mind, thinking to myself that Emily wouldn't have given up on this piece, and neither will I! Sometimes I think to myself, "A real poet would see this situation or scene in a different way."

I can borrow her eyes, see things for the moment they are, not just a series of events in a hectic life, but each moment shining with possibility. To slow down, and see things in their smallest detail, as she is famous for doing.

Whose writing do you take for your heritage?

What days are marked for your remembrance? How do you observe these holidays known only to you?The word holiday is a combination of two words: holy + day. In the middle ages, holy days were often feast days celebrating the lives of various saints and apostles. Many of our modern traditions have its roots in these old celebrations. Each day had its own observances, some with feasting, some with fasting, or other rituals.

Tennyson's poem "Break, Break, Break" ends with the lines: "But the tender grace of a day that is dead Will never come back to me." What days are dead to you? Would you resurrect them if you could?

Speaking of resurrecting things, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein began as a dare that gave the author a terrible nightmare. Mary and her famous Romantic poet husband, Percy Byshe Shelly, were entertaining friends. The group, out of boredom, decided to have a contest to see who could write the most chilling, eerie story. Mary Shelly agonized all day, despairing of winning the game, because everyone else was writing fast and furious stories that chilled her bones, but she could think of nothing. That night, she went to bed, and dreamed a nightmare that had her waking in a cold sweat. She jumped out of bed, sketched the outline for the entire novel right then and there, and told her companions about it the next morning. She not only won the contest, but has gone down in history as the creator of one of the most memorable monsters of all time.

The Ides of March . . . May 5th, St. George's Day, and the Mexican's Cenco de Mayo . . . All Hallow's Eve. The calendar is scattered with times when we are to pause and take time to remember those who are no longer with us, warnings that we ourselves are here only for an allotted time. Which great writer of the past do you honor?