Sunday, August 29, 2021

Writers' Pantry #85: Things to remember if you're not rich and famous yet

From an essay by Karen Lord; this excerpt shared on facebook by one of my writer friends.


Hello again, dear wordsmiths. I have a couple of writer friends who are feeling downhearted because their books have not achieved much in the way of worldly success – though they are loved very much by the readers they do have. I think there are plenty more of us who have felt this way, at least sometimes.

At 81, I am becoming aware of the ephemeral nature of, well, most aspects of human life; and I'm reaching the conclusion that the impact we make on the few, in the present moment, matters too – and matters enough.

After all, only Mary Oliver could be Mary Oliver. It's good that she reached many! Perhaps the Universe gets it right and we all reach the souls who need our words, and will be touched by them. Is any one soul – or any 100 – less important than all others?

I think of the years when I offered psychic readings in the Sunday markets. I live in a small country town, not a big city. I was often astounded at how people from all over the world found their way to my low-key little market stall – people who needed not just a reader, but me specifically, with my particular life experiences and any personal wisdom I'd acquired – and needed that just as much as the psychic insights I also received for them.

I didn't get rich or famous at that, either, though many times people have told me, even years later, how right I got it and how much I helped them. Most of those people might be considered unimportant, in that they weren't celebrities or in positions of power in the world. But they were people in need, and I am no less thrilled and humbled than if they'd been super-stars. Such considerations become irrelevant when you can reach someone on a deep level and affect them for the good.

I like to think we can do that with our writing too, whether it drastically changes someone's whole point of view (not impossible!) or, conversely, delights them with fellow-feeling ... or simply causes them to stop a moment and notice the beauty of a flower.

So I thought I'd treat you to what other writers – including some we might consider very successful – have had to say about all this.

Robert Lee Brewer, for instance (quoted on our Rallentanda's blog) reminds us: Good poetry could be dismissed by a million readers but touch one person deeply.

This implies some interesting ideas about 'good poetry' – that not everyone (possibly not many) may be able to appreciate it, and that its goodness could reside in its ability to 'touch deeply' the few discerning readers. Is that a bit exclusivist? Perhaps not, when we consider the many thousands who think Hallmark greeting cards are lovely poetry. In any case (as I have said before) wasn't that what we all wanted when we started out – to touch even one person very deeply? We can't always know who we touch, let alone how many, but if you feel unappreciated by the masses, remember that that's not what it's all about.

I looked for and couldn't find a Fay Weldon quote where she says (something to the effect that) the only good reason to write is for the love of it – because we are very unlikely to make money at it, so if we do it for that reason, we're likely to end up very disappointed. If I haven't got that exactly right, it's close. I love it because it reminds me firmly of my real reason for writing, which is basically that I can't not do it. If I go more than a few days without, I start to get cranky.

'How do you do it?' asked a dear friend who is an academic. 'How can you bear to do all that writing?'

'Um, I guess the thing is, you're not a born writer,' I said, 'Or you wouldn't ask.'

She loves her work, and she writes very well, but she experiences the writing side of things as a terrible chore, something she struggles with. Well of course, we struggle too, often enough, don't we? But not in a way that makes us want to stop writing altogether, even if we decide to abandon a particular project.

I did find this Fay Weldon quote:    
Sound waves do not die out. They travel forever and forever. All our sentences are immortal. Our useless bleatings circle the universe for all eternity.        

Irreverent woman, Fay! But think about it. If what she says here is true, maybe we haven't 'failed'.

Oh, and if you should happen to produce a great classic of literature, even posthumously, you too may  be ruthlessly lampooned by later generations:


You can be a little bit famous right here and now, by linking to your blog to share with us one of your poems or prose pieces (prose 369 words max, please). For our Writers' Pantry today, and every Sunday, you can share any of your work, old or new. The prompt stays open for a week. Don't forget to read each other! And encouraging comments are always appreciated.

So are any remarks you care to make in the comments to this post, whether about being rich and famous (or not), letting us know how you're going, or just to say G'day. Oh all right, Hi. (Buenos dias, Ni hao, Goedendag, How do?.... )

Next Wednesday 

Magaly would like us to write poetry or prose inspired by the following Jim Rohn quote: Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in. Feel free to use the phrase literally or figuratively.

And finally, guess what?

We've just become a little more famous as a community! A new website, BlogOverview, has just added us to their top 10 poetry blogs, at this link. Their Editor, Karen Gillies, told me: 'We've put a lot of work into ensuring that the blogs are not just those ranked highest by Google, but rather a diverse list of blogs with meaningful and personable content in relation to the subject matter.' Wow, what a compliment!

As we are storytellers as well as poets, they will also be adding us in the Writing category. And they warmly invite us all to use the site as a resource for finding other great blogs in our personal areas of interest.


Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors. (Older material may be out of copyright).


  1. Hyvää huomenta kaikille! :)

    Rosemary, what a brilliant and motivational post! It reads just like your Moonlight Musings I used to enjoy. You (and others you've quoted here) are so right about so many things. But I especially like your conclusion a lot, “The impact we make on the few, in the present moment, matters too – and matters enough.”

    I also know well about starting to get cranky, when I don’t write or don't have the time to. I just can’t imagine not writing... Maybe I love the idea of my sentences being immortal. :)

    The image about being ruthlessly lampooned by later generations made me smile. Because that’s how youngsters (in my family) talk about classics! A really uplifting post, thanks once again for taking time to pen it.

    YAY! To the shout out by BlogOverview. That is indeed a wonderful compliment. This is also a good time to say thank you to you all here, who work behind the scenes curating these posts, prompts, sharing reads or resources of interests and more, for the benefit of this community!

    And so, in this spirit of being famous today, I’m linking my post...LOL! And I’ll be reading you, fellow storytellers. Enjoy your Sunday!

    1. Thank you for the thanks! And I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I love your enthusiastic response.

  2. Brilliantly said. This reminds me of this particular line of poetry "I never did change the world, but I always spared a kind word to whom it may concern."

  3. Interesting post and I think connecting to a few is as important ( probably even more so )than appealing to the masses. Thank you Rosemary
    for the time you spend making this site possible and also to Magaly and Rommy. Please don't make us rich and famous...there are those here who would be horrified at the idea :)

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rall. But I fear we cannot make anyone rich, or even famous – if that's what we want, we must manage it for ourselves. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a famous poet. Now I realise that poets aren't really; even the most famous are relatively unknown compared to sports stars and entertainers. I also look at the high cost of fame, in such things as press intrusion, and would not want it at all.

  4. Rosemary, thank you for this wonderful article.
    i am not rich and i am not famous, but that's okay with me though i would like to improve on the 'rich' part by a bit. :)
    i really like the 'abridged classics', i have done a couple in the past, and i called it '..super-condensed'.

    1. I suspect most people would like to be a little richer than they are! I feel very rich in many other ways, but more money would always come in handy.
      I can imagine you would do your super-condensing very well!

  5. Rosemary, your poetry and words of wisdom probably have touched more than you could possibly know, me for one. Thank you for your work (as well as Magaly's and Rommy's) ; I feel a kinship to the fellow poets I read and think of them when I'm not at the computer. It makes me feel connected to a caring, articulate fellowship of kindred hearts.
    I don't care about being famous (too much work for this lazy, introverted soul). I don't care to be rich in wealth for I am already rich in family, my poetic family included.
    If any of my poetry touches another person then that is payment and fame enough for me. So many on this site and others have written poetry and prose that made me say, "Yes, she/he understands!" Thanks to all of you.

    1. Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt comment, Debi. Yes, me too – there is a warmth I feel by now for the members of this poetic family. It's very nurturing.

      What you say reminds me that many years ago a prominent clairvoyant (now long deceased) told me, 'You will touch many; more than you can ever dream or know.' A very thrilling prediction! Naturally I hoped this would be via my poetry – but now I think it is also through my many teaching and mentoring roles over the years. And of course I don't know, and can't know, as I only see the immediate effect on those close by – which is a good thing as it keeps me humble, and more focused on the work than myself. Still, it is very good to get that reminder; thank you.

  6. Thanks to the terrific trio who keep Poets and Storytellers alive and well! Rosemary, your post today touched me, made me more aware than usual, that my writing need not touch or impress all of humankind ... thank you for that reminder.

    1. We enjoy doing it, Helen. Sure, it's no less a job for being voluntary, and does involve work, planning and deadlines – but if it wasn't more about what we love and believe in, we wouldn't do it. Also we are much on the same wavelength, so we get on well and find each other easy to work with, which is a sweet bonus.

  7. Happy Sunday! It's been a little while since I've linked up and read your posts, but it's good to be back. :)

  8. "All our sentences are immortal." That will get me to write (and share) every time.

    Thank you for hosting, Rosemary!

  9. The reason to write? I like to write when some will read it. Like the noise in the forest when there is no one to hear, is it really a noise? Same with writing, if no one reads it is it really a writing?
    I liked your point, "people have told me, even years later, how right I got it and how much I helped them." I have met former students at various places and it warms my heart how I helped them to succeed, academically and practically in their affairs. I also liked to hear the one time in a Walmart store, words by the cashier, how my son had saved her life. He didn't tell me about that until I met up with him again and told him of what I had learned.
    BTW, age? I'll be 88 the end of October. Congrats on your 81, isn't it great to be "OBE"? (Over Bloody Eighty, I learned that from an Ausie virtual friend, now deceased.)

    1. Well I guess you win when it comes to seniority here, Jim! Yes, I always like being whatever age I am, and octogenarian is pretty good so far.
      Perhaps it depends on the purpose of the writing. If it's a private journal and the author is the only reader, I think it still counts as writing because it was meant for that audience of one. But when we're creating art, while the first impulse is self-expression, that is closely followed by the second, which is the need to communicate.
      It is wonderful to be able to use our skills and talents to be of use to others. And to get feedback to that effect is very nice indeed!

    2. Thanks for reminding me, I do write for myself sometimes. Generally I keep these bits on unused blogs, I also have a private blog for my eyes only. Ted Kooser, could have been Mary Oliver, suggested writing just to write. I did that for a while, little exercises came along with the writing. Ted believed in knowing one's audience and to be writing for their readership desires and likes. I try to do that, but everyone cannot be pleased, I am not an elegant writer, my working vocabulary is mainly of words of five and six letters and less. My blogs have been around since 2005, quite a few years ago I changed this one for poems only. My photos mostly go elsewhere, but I try to have a picture on each one to illustrate. Most times I deliberately try to write so that my poem will stand alone without the picture. I was requested by a reader comment to have more pictures. The other blog, "Jim's Little Blog", is now more of a journal, meme, type often to prompt words or suggestions. There used to be large groups to join in with but these are getting smaller and smaller. I feel happy if I can average six with the small group I am in with now. My family and some friends also read the blogs, but generally do not leave comments. One daughter and one son do if I am ringing their bell loudly enough. Facebook has taken over the social bit with my groups. I do post a poem seen here or even a meme sometimes on FB.
      That's pretty much where I am, I do not get political on MY OWN blog, I did early on but was hurt by the ugly harassment I was getting for it. (I stood up for a well known but not rich at all celebrity when her made rich with petroleum and oil husband died. A nephew was named in his unchanged will and he would not even share a few million$$ with her. My writing was an editorial of sorts.)

  10. Dear Jossin, I hope you read this. (If anyone knows Jossin, please pass this on.) Your link leads back to one of my own blogs. I guess you were doing some browsing! But we'd love to read whatever you wanted to share with us, so please try linking again, to your own blog post.

  11. Thanks so much for writing this post, Rosemary! I felt encouraged by it. This is a wonderful place to write thanks to the three of you always coming up with excellent prompts, and interesting background on many of them. I think very highly of your writing. It is an honor to be of this family.

  12. Thank you so very much for all your help, Rosemary~


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