I wrote a poem last week. Been a while.
It struck me then that it didn’t feel like I really wrote it until I posted it on my writing forum. They’ve read any poem I’ve written that’s worth reading (and a whole bunch of them not worth the pixels) for the last four years. The room has changed a bit; many of the poets I consider mentors don’t frequent it like they used to. Hell, I don’t frequent it like I used to. But after posting it, I sent one of those mentors a message. It said, “Hey, I posted a new poem. Stop by if you get a chance. It feels like it doesn’t exist if you don’t read it.”
I laughed to myself. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it…” Then I realized how true it was.
Sometimes that’s how writing feels. Like it didn’t happen until someone else sees it. Writing can be very solitary sometimes. I know it’s there. I know the words. But they are erasable. Deletable. Until they are in someone else’s mind too.
It’s not just poetry. I’ve felt that way about my fiction before too. Wanting people to read it, sometimes even before it’s done. It doesn’t feel “written” until a handful of trusted betas have it.
When people who love to write talk about the struggle of publishing: the making the words good enough, making the story compelling enough, making the query letter enticing enough. When we talk about rejection and that hollow angst that sets in when we get too many rejections in a row, understand, the love of writing is what compels us to write. We will always write. We do write for ourselves, first. We have a love affair with words. We can’t help it. Writing is a compulsion, a need. It is as much a need as breathing, eating, sleeping; we write.
We go through the struggles of publishing because we want someone to hear the tree fall.
Be a reader for an unpublished writer you know.
for the curious (as the poem really doesn’t fit the context of this post, it was merely the reason I realized), here’s the poem I wrote:
Only sideways relevant.
Hash, slash, comma, divided
by pretty words.
The afterthought on thought.
Then your eyes pronounce
A judgment – I’ll do time.
as frown lines
curve the corners of your lips,
I know everything –
every word – that falls between them
A digression from
(I make note)
what you mean.