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Originality or authenticity? Image or substance?

I was asked by a friend last night if I were ever caught up in the image of the poet.  I told him “No.”

My father convinced me that I would never make a dime writing poetry.  I now think he was wrong about this and so many other things.  But like most kids, I idolized him and tried to be like him.  (I ended up being quite like my biological father without knowing he existed).

I wrote the poetry because I had too.  My first therapist said that the poetry kept me alive. I think that is true.  The journal and the poetry kept me from denying myself and helped my watch my thoughts, which ended being my introduction to meditation.  I just went back to that– so it’s full circle in fifty years.

Poetry was all prayer.  I was communicating with God.  It never dawned on me that there was  any status in writing poems.  I was quite surprised to find that people enjoyed the poetry and waited to see what I would write next. I didn’t know then that the more personal we become, the more universal we actually are.

If I publish a novel or more than one, I will feel good because there are things I want to say and problems I want to work out through my characters.  I don’t think that novelists are well known.  I wouldn’t recognize my favorite writers if I fell over them in the street– that includes Toni Morrison, Alan Furst, Joyce Carol Oates and others.  I also would not recognize any screenwriters or producers– so what possible status would that bring?

I write because I must.  It is the only way I stay close to myself.  It is so easy to become a stranger to yourself without trying.  The antidote– writing.

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