Saturday, October 4, 2014

Desperation, Dissatisfaction and Discovery

It had not been a good couple days. I had barely slept, I had spent the last two days writing, and I apparently wasn't getting any satisfaction out of the ordeal. All I had gotten were a few Likes and +1s, which could mean anything from "That was awesome" to "I didn't read it."

Then suddenly someone from home called me. Someone I had given copies of both of my books to. And he said that he had not only read them; he had an opinion as to which was better. "The Leopard Slug is more clever," he said, "whereas Classifieds just reads like you were in a really, really bad place at the time." To tell the truth, I was in a really bad place when I wrote both books; I just didn't know it when I was writing The Leopard Slug. I'm still probably in a bad place that I'm completely unaware of.

Let's face it; being a poet sucks. These kinds of interactions are the exception, not the rule. You never know how many people actually read your work. You never know how many people skip past your poem to get to their own, or to that of someone they know, or to one with a more interesting title. You never know how many of your books, politely bought, stand unopened on someone's shelf or in a box.

But poetry isn't about you; it's about engaging with readers. And to do that, you have to write a lot, and put a lot out there. You don't get to choose what resonates with people. Nor can you possibly know, because you're not those people. All you can do is write, desperate, dissatisfied and disillusioned (in the words of Charles Bukowski), until you discover that someone has been disinthralled by your words.

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