Avoiding the whole po biz scene as I do might seem brilliant to an outsider, but it does mean there’s a lot of pretty basic stuff I’ve had to work out on my own. For example—and this is always a big one for me—why bother to put my work out there at all? Since the writing itself is what gives me so much joy, why not just live for that?

Well, it occurred to me just the other day that while I may not need an audience, the work does. It needs that appreciative Hmmm! or that doubtful Hmmm. Because avoiding self-satisfaction is absolutely essential in order to safeguard what skill I’ve managed to build up. I mean, that’s the task of every serious artist, isn’t it? To remain critical of one’s own work without losing awareness of its quality. And it’s hard to maintain a realistic sense of the work’s quality without at least occasional feedback.

Also, I owe it to the creative energies that produced it to share the work widely, because such energies feed off of conviviality; it’s in my own interest as an artist to keep the virtuous cycle going. It’s a leap of faith, of course, and sometimes feels about as meaningful as writing my poems in the snow with a stick.

Although that can be meaningful, too, if you’re a child walking home from school and you write messages in the snow of your driveway for your father to read when he drives home. Years later, Dad told me those were some his favorite memories from raising kids.

It helps to know your audience.

2 thoughts on “Realization

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.