No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good. Like gold or emerald or purple repeating to itself, “No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be emerald, my color undiminished.”
~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (A.D. 121-180), Meditations
And yet, it is such a joy to be found, to have someone say out loud what we ourselves thought as we put the words on the page in the first place – that what we said made sense and found its mark on the heart of our reader. To be heard, to have our thoughts reflected back to us in conversation, to have someone hold space for us – this may be the ultimate battle for a writer. It is what we want most of all, but we fight it. We say we would write even if we had no audience, and for many of us, this is true. We would. Because we cannot do otherwise. Words find their ways out of us, and we can barely help it. Words tunnel out and slip into our dreams, our fingers find a keyboard, or a pen, and a scrap of paper. I have written on grocery lists, on my waitress pads when I was waiting tables, on paper bags and pizza boxes. I have scrawled out words with a stick in the sand. The images become too much for us to bear on our own. More than anything, we want to not be talking to ourselves. We want a give and take, a response, a debate or an accord. We hate ourselves for wanting it, because to write should be enough. We are not as selfish as the penny press has made us out to be; quiet, perhaps; brooding, okay, sometimes: distant, that fits – but only because there are worlds within us stampeding their way to the page, and we are often not so good at small talk.
But let a gentle reader tell us kindly that we have caught their attention, and we are all atwitter. Especially if we have been making the rounds, reading the words of others, sifting through the many public places where words are plastered, desperately looking for someone we want to read again and again, finding some with promise, making our comments, scattering our bread crumbs, and hoping to lead them back to us.
This happened to me today – I got some juicy comments from other writers and it made my head spin. And then I got a lecture.
My husband told me that I have been agitated in the last few days, a little short and jumpy. I see his point. I have been devouring blogs day in and day out, looking for patterns, looking for my tribe, my little group where I can belong, where we speak the same language and can have fun discussing things for the pure joy of it. There are endless blogs in the world. It can be daunting trying to break into the popular circles.
He reminded me today that I already have a group of people who love my writing – my Poetry Slam group in Ashland! Once a month I go there and I share my words from a stage. I’ve won cash money on more than one occasion, and I almost always get advanced to the final round. I look forward to hanging out with my poets on that one day of the month. I adore them, and they keep telling me they like my stuff.
Scott encouraged me to focus on the writing that gets me the response I adore. I actually have a Reading at a Bookstore in Ashland with two of my fellow poets tomorrow. Doing the thing that gets me in front of an audience makes sense. I love that rush, the applause. I love when people come up to me afterward, and I know that I struck a chord, that I spoke straight into their heart. That is some powerful connecting, and I eat it up.
This is what it boils down to for me. That no matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good.
Like gold or emerald or purple repeating to itself, “No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be emerald, my color undiminished.”
Seeking online support and community may be a straying from being my color undiminished. Sorry, this has got to be the oldest internal struggle in the world – to write for itself, or to write and seek audience. We know what we want. It’s just so hard to say it out loud.
Can I just say that when you, dear readers, take a moment to enter into conversation with me, my whole world explodes in joy. That’s not overstating, I don’t think. I wouldn’t want to overstate that.
photo from here