“Why are you writing poems all of a sudden? Are you going to publish them? Do you know how hard it is to get a book of poems published? Not that many people like poetry, anyway.” It was all one sentence. It was probably meant to be helpful, although I had not asked for help. Or even a comment. But we are in America, where we sell everything from truth to religion (to riff on a Jackson Browne lyric), and if we don’t sell, how will we know we are successful?
I don’t write to create poetry to publish.
I don’t write to create poetry to use at a future date in a class.
I write for the sheer joy, relief, and healing power of putting words on a page.
No one will see these anytime soon. Maybe never. That’s fine.
But what am I “getting from it”? Joy. And the realization that those old wounds that I so wanted to heal and put behind me are now my companions. The wounds of childhood, of growing up, and the wounds of adulthood re-shape my life every day. You never get closure or “get over” wounds. The wounds heal and leave a scar that you learn to live with.
You don’t “get over” being shoved aside at a job because a friend schemed her promotion at the cost of your job. You don’t shrug off getting laid off because that “young thinking” company thinks you are suddenly old. You don’t “get closure” when you discover a lie in your marriage, your friends dying off so much sooner than you thought it would happen, a pet fading and leaving you with a decision that is not love-based but financially made. Life is not easy, but there is writing.
I don’t write for product, I write for the joy of the process. Writing for the love of writing, because you love words, because you want to be a beginner at something when time has dished out enough years to disqualify you as the ingenue in your own life, well, that is enough reason for writing.
This is hard to understand, I know. But it is also a vital part of writing. It is the place to start writing. It is the place to create the joy of sound and understanding.
Maybe later I will write to get published. Maybe later I’ll write for a product. But right now, at this very minute, I’m writing for the process. And that is more than enough.