Reflections on the journey of writing, etc
In this plain hardback Moleskine notebook resides the bulk of my endeavors for National Poetry Month. (Which also happens to be my work for Camp NaNoWriMo). You’d think, with me being an avid writer of poetry, that I would be all over this platform this month, taking full advantage of the situation, and in fact that was my original plan. I set a goal for myself to share one poem from my project every single day during April, going whole hog on the 30 day challenge thing and seeking to publish each piece in a different publication. Instead, I’ve put the first one out there on my own blog and the rest is waiting patiently on paper and in slightly edited form on google docs.
A number of things stopped me from carrying out my plan. Setting aside the clear problem of time, what really set me back on my heels was the thought of writing for 30 publications. THIRTY. I can’t even handle the expectations and guidelines of the tiny handful that list me as a writer, so the idea of adding to that so drastically filled me with anxiety. I can’t have it on my shoulders that I am letting such a large number of writers, owners, and editors down every single day, because I know good and well that more than likely I will write for them maybe once and then go AWOL.
Years ago, the photographic legend Edward Weston wrote candidly in his Daybooks about his artistic journey. My Dad gave me copies of them a few years ago (I suspect they are his own copies, passed on), but even before that I had more fellow photographers than I can count recommending to me that I read them, mostly because I have been very open about my mental struggle with being involved in The Arts.
I wish I could turn off my brain when it comes to overthinking every aspect of my life, but I have yet to figure out how. Maybe all creative people struggle with this, and are similarly torn apart by the rigmarole of participating in the art world, by the agony of putting the work out there, the constant cycle of anticipation and rejection, the terrible reality that really nobody else cares about what you create but you. A friend of mine and I have joked for years about the hashtag #noonecares — but it’s half laughter and half knowing tears.
Why I expected the world of writing to be any different than the world of fine art photography, I have no idea. Probably, if I dig deep, I knew it would be the same. The same cycle of me finding an incredible community in which to participate and then being crushed by the pressure that participation entails. The same old thing of me realizing that in fact I am crap compared to 99.9% of everyone else who is out there, and that I’m lucky if I make $5 every once in a while, and also that I definitely don’t have it in me to do what it takes to drag, scrape, and claw myself kicking and screaming into whatever it is that constitutes financial success in the realm of an art form. As a beautiful and brilliant photographer I know put it so perfectly several years ago, it’s a lack of “chutzpah.” It ain’t there for me, folks, I lack that gene. I am physically incapable of telling you that you should buy my stuff, that I am worth your investment; I would far rather point you in the direction of others who are far more talented than me.
So, in general, that’s what I do, and that’s where I find my joy. I spend hour upon hour every single week of the year promoting other peoples’ work on Instagram (and other platforms, but mostly IG), and I do it all for free. Nobody gets paid a dime in any of the groups where I hang out, but I do hope that maybe as a result of a feature somebody out there achieves a glimmer of measurable success to put in their pocket for a rainy day. I’ve noticed that the online sites mean a great deal to people, and that’s what keeps me there, keeps me going back.
I also find my joy in that notebook I pictured at the beginning, and its embarrassingly large number of cousins. I write and write and write, and it delights me; I read them aloud to my family. I text them, when they’re funny to me, to my friends. I have a good time sharing them with my photographs on Instagram, since at heart I am a visual person; even the poetry is about vision, pictures, letters that paint emotions, nostalgia, a thousand words. . . . .
Maybe I shouldn’t share these things. Edward Weston probably didn’t mean for his diaries to get shared, when he wrote them. I know he went through and edited them mercilessly before they were published. Medium seems like a minefield to me, but today they also shared some kind of article on being more honest, so here I am, lobbing a grenade.
I don’t like expectations; I don’t like being stuffed in a box. It’s a harsh world out there, and the system is set up all around us to make it more difficult. But I’m grateful for the opportunity of connecting with readers who aren’t my facebook friends or instagram followers. I’m grateful for the community I’ve found here, whether I manage to properly participate or not. There’s more love in my heart than I know how to portion out. See y’all in the ether. . . . .