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?.... )
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).