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Writing About Uncertainty

broad brimmed straw hat

How are you experiencing uncertainty in a time of pandemic or other unusual circumstances? Try writing about Uncertainty with a capital "U" as if it were a person, animal, or creature.

What does Uncertainty's voice sound like?

How does Uncertainty look and move? Is Uncertainty menacing, playful, confounding? Does anyone else arrive with Uncertainty or does Uncertainty show up alone?

Fred Rogers famously asserted that what is mentionable is manageable. Writing to personify abstract concepts goes beyond mentioning and may yield an enhanced sense of agency and equanimity.

Writing tip: After you've written for awhile, revisit any metaphors you've used. Do they fit with the overall persona you're describing? For example, if Uncertainty is a person, they might have a voice that sounds like a booming thundercloud, but they wouldn't hang out in the sky like a booming thundercloud (unless you're going for magical realism, which is choice to be intentionally made). Does each metaphor strengthen or dilute the impact of your other metaphors? Tweak as you see fit.

Here's my draft poem:

The Guest

Uncertainty arrives at my doorstep

wearing a broad brimmed straw hat

thirty-six inches in diameter.

I step outside toward her. She shelters me

in her shade; her arrival interrupting

uncountable days of stern and unblinking heat.

Wearing a yellow skirt pale as butter, hair pinned loosely up,

Uncertainty looks like the Goddess I abandoned or she, me

a long, long time ago when I was nine or so.

Hiding behind Uncertainty, a young girl peeks out.

Is she the girl I also left behind or she, me

a long, long time ago when we were nine or so?

I invite them inside.

© 2016 Poetic License, Inc.
P.O. Box 279, Glencoe, IL 60022
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