Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Prodigal Poet
There are days when I love writing so much that I just can't seem to get words out quickly enough to satisfy the inundated crevices of my soul. And there are probably far too many days when I hate it -- I hate the way it feels, sounds, tastes . . . I hate the way it taunts me and chastizes me for not being more clever and witty. Writing is really a love/hate relationship. You don't do it simply because you love it. You do it because you feel you have to -- that you will cease to be you if you don't.
I've talked plenty about how I discovered that writing was my life-calling when I was 9 years old, writing my first book of poems for the Young Authors Contest. I had never felt such satisfaction before as when I first put pen to paper for that very first poem, titled "Mothers." I will probably never aptly articulate just what that moment meant for me and what it did to me. I was hooked. I was lost and gone forever in a world full of words, symbols, plots, rhymes, and meter.
Writing made me feel alive and more like myself than at any other time. I've shared how my confidence got slaughtered during college with my writing, and how afterward I didn't read or write anything of substance for a few years. Well, now that I've been reunited with both, it feels like my long-lost friend has returned. Or rather, that I have returned to it -- the Prodigal Poet. A large and prominent part of me is back from a long journey into darkness. And like the Prodigal Son's father, I welcome it with open arms, unconcerned about what took it so long.
Despite the lovely welcome-home party, the frustrations with writing never end. I'm finding my voice again, and hopefully strengthening my craft each day. Now my problem is trying to find an audience that is interested. I'll be honest, I find myself very often frustrated in feeling that no one is terribly interested in what I have to say. And there are other people in the world, that never studied the craft, that maybe don't even love it, that don't have much talent for it, but yet have an endless audience. It's difficult to not feel jealous of that. I know I shouldn't concern myself with what accolades other people are or are not getting. It's not for me to deem their worthiness.
Every writer wonders for whom they are writing . . . themself, others, God, etc. For me, it's a combination of them all. For myself I write to live out my passion as a creative outlet, to vent, to help form my identity, to ponder every question I can think about of the world and spirituality. For others I write to offer something with which to relate, to offer comfort, humor, or insight. And for God I write because I believe he has given me a passion that I should use however I can to make the world a better place.
The motivations for writing are never black and white; they are a complex, ever-swirling pool of questions and doubts, both colorful and dark. I don't think most writers are ever fully satisfied with their work. There always seems to be something that we can do better, something we can change. I sometimes wonder if all writers are masochists . . . at least, I seem to love beating myself up, maybe that's just me. :) But despite any of the criticism or self-doubt, we come back to our first love. It will always draw us back into its arms, cradling us and reminding us of why we fell in love in the first place.
Last week I completed ghost-writing an e-book for a client on her experiences going through cancer and the all-natural path of healing that she chose. This is my very first paid-for writing gig. Finally, my degree in writing is beginning to manifest in a very real way. It may not be a widely published book, but it's something. And something is better than nothing. It's a first step, hopefully, to making my writing dreams a reality. I don't know how long that will take, but I'm ready to begin.
I know that my writing is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. My style and my views are probably not going to be attractive to a lot of the people I know. Unfortunately (and in some ways, perhaps fortunately), I don't fit neatly into any certain category, genre, or audience type. I suppose my writing is more for people that are a little more like me, a paradox. And that's going to be perhaps a more difficult niche to find. I am hoping that someday I can find it, where I can offer something of value. For now, I'll try to remind myself that not everyone has to "get" it or like it in order for it to mean something. I'll try to remind myself that before I ever concerned myself with praise, attention, and acceptance, I fell in love with the words. And no matter how many times I may stray into the darkness again, they will always be at home, waiting with open arms.