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.