Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rambling thoughts on fear and writing

The great trick of writing is also the great trick of living--listening to your inner self fueled by the spiritual.

I'm thinking about this because a wonderful poet recently commented there are too many poems published these days and that's because poets are forced by requirements of university teaching to publish (or perish).

I'm inclined to kid myself that doesn't apply to me since I'm not an academic, but I feel a little panicky when I realize I don't yet have a new poetry manuscript to follow up my 2009 collection. Some poets produce a huge amount but others, Cavafy, Rilke, Whitman, among them, end up with one generous volume of poems, and those poems last.

So for me, I must listen to the voice in me and of me. Not my dear departed mother's voice, or imaginary authority figures (and nomads--they roam from my right to left shoulder), not editors. Set the work aside for a year and then return to it. I haven't been doing that.

I just heard an artist and illustrator talk about his struggles. He mentioned that it took some time for him to understand "the voice" (my conceit) was urging him to teach art to children for one of his jobs.

The brain says, Stick with adults because adults will help you become famous, but the artist/illustrator loves working with kids. If he'd let his more cowardly brain rule the day, he'd have distanced himself more but allowing a great satisfaction in his life.

Only the work brings satisfaction and a sense of happy completion, and awareness that least for a time, all is well.

ILLUSTRATION: Laurent de Brunhof, I saw it at the Morgan Library exhibit last year; not necessarily relevant here, but beautiful

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