ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Write your ideas down before you forget! – Analysis of Dickinson’s No. 245

Updated on July 18, 2013
19th century painting by Leonid Pasternak entitled The Throes of Creation
19th century painting by Leonid Pasternak entitled The Throes of Creation | Source

It doesn’t matter what you write: school papers, work reports, online content, or serious poetry and works of literature, I am sure you have run into this problem: you suddenly have a great idea; it comes out of nowhere, yet is surprisingly complete….but for some reason you do not write it down! You might be busy, you might be feeling blasé about your writing at that moment, or you might simply be half asleep. Whatever the reason, I am sure you tell yourself “Oh, it can wait till later!”. How many times have you done this, and then when “later” comes around, you can’t remember what you wanted to write? I don’t mean that your idea is completely gone, but that you can’t remember wording that you had planned or something that had seemed very special to you. You will probably finish your project at some point. But in all likelihood, you will always feel that it could have been better.

I have done this (and to a certain extent I probably still do). But I guess I shouldn’t beat myself up about it too bad, because I’m sure I’m not the only one. In fact, I truly feel Emily Dickinson made this mistake herself and even wrote a poem about it: No. 245, I held a Jewel in my fingers, written c. 1861.

This is solely my own interpretation and analysis. But I honestly feel I may have hit on something here:

I held a Jewel in my fingers –

And Went to sleep –

The day was warm and winds were prosy –

I said “ ‘Twill keep” –


I woke – and chid my honest fingers,

The Gem was gone –

And now, an Amethyst remembrance

Is all I own –

Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson
Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson | Source

If you have ever created anything that you feel was truly inspired, you know what Dickinson meant by I held a Jewel in my fingers. An idea, particularly a new idea, feels like a gem. But Dickinson made the mistake of falling asleep because The day was warm and winds were prosy, and because she foolishly thought ‘Twill keep.

I had to look up the definition of prosy. It means a lack of imagination, and therefore Dickinson was probably suffering from a dislike of her work or was simply bored with life when this Jewel of an idea came.

But then she woke, The Gem, the idea, was gone. And now only a light remembrance of it remains.

I doubt what Emily Dickinson wrote had much to do with poem No. 245 itself. However, it most certainly seems – to me at least – that this may have been an illustration of a mistake she had made with past poems: She didn’t write the idea down. She let herself go to sleep, either literally or figuratively, and then found herself unable to complete what was now gone.

Portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge | Source

Coleridge made this mistake too

In all fairness, it should be admitted that writer’s block was the main reason why Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge was never completed. The poem was meant to have three parts: the first two were written at separate times and the third never came into existence. Coleridge himself admitted – in not so many words – that he would have had a better chance of finishing the whole thing if he had simply sat his butt down to write:

The first part of the following poem was written in the year 1797…The second part in the year 1800. It is probable that if the poem had been finished at either of the former periods, or if even the first and second parts had been published in the year 1800, the impression of its originality would have been much greater than I dare at present expect. But for this I have only my own indolence to blame.

– Coleridge’s preface to an 1800s edition of his poems.

I should also add that there is a big difference between Coleridge’s inability to finish Christabel, and his inability to finish Kubla Khan. What little we have of Kubla Khan was written when Coleridge was coming down from a drug high. It was intended to be a much longer poem, but Coleridge was interrupted and by the time he could go back to writing, his head had cleared and he couldn’t remember what he intended to write. Christabel, on the other hand, was a victim of his indolence. Indolence, by the way, means that you are not working because you are bored or disgusted with your occupation.

And the moral of the story is…

Write your ideas down! Even if it is just one sentence, even if you write something that doesn’t make much sense, WRITE IT DOWN. You may not remember it later on if you don’t. Carry a notebook around with you. Many writers prefer Moleskine notebooks because they are small and bendable (and also because the company has spent a lot of money marketing the idea that Moleskines are “the notebooks of artists”); but any small notebook will do. If all else fails, just fold up a piece of notepaper and keep it in your pocket. Figure out what works for you, but don’t risk waking up later on and finding that your Gem is gone.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • LastRoseofSummer2 profile image
      Author

      LastRoseofSummer2 4 years ago from Arizona

      Tom London - Thank you so much for your comment! I did not even think about more modern possibilities such as saving an idea on your phone or tablet. Thank you for your insight.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Oh, your words are so true! I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me! I need to write down everything, including my grocery list, as each item comes into my mind. Sadly, I always think, 'twill keep' and then the precious thought has gone. Lovely writing, augmented by your appropriate pictures.

    • Tom London profile image

      Tom London 4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Great point and good examples! And since a few years ago, I always write anything and everything in my smartphone. Those ideas come up in the most unusual places...

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)