If you are like me – and I’ll bet you are, at least in this respect – you have a sneaking suspicion that your writing, at least some of it, is really very good. But you read the poem or the chapter in front of your writer’s group or creative writing class and you get the standard reactions. The people there all know you, they probably like you, and they say the things they think they ought to say to be polite. After all, they are going to be reading next.
They look to find some bit of it that they can say something definite about. Something other than “I liked this,” or “I thought that part was really good.” But nobody gets it, really. Nobody feels the force of it. Nobody finds the gold that you thought you put there; that you just know you put there.
After a while you can come to the conclusion that, you know, it must not be that good after all. That, in fact, you must be the one who is biased and overly excited about this mess of ink on the page (okay, electrons on the screen, but you know what I mean) and that there is nothing, really, so all-fired different or exciting about what you have written. Maybe you should just give it up.
But we can’t give it up. It burns within our bones. And if we don’t let it out, well, then, we’re less than we know we ought to be. We are, in some sense, at least, denying our calling.
So we might think, maybe I just have not found the right audience. (We know who some would laugh at that.) But, maybe my writer’s group, my creative writing class, my circle of friends, all of those are just too small of a sample size and maybe I am that much different from everyone else here – everyone around me – and it is asking too much to expect that there would be even one among these thirty or forty folks here who would feel what I feel; who would understand what I am trying to say.
What if I could shout it to the whole world, though? Would there be a few, somewhere, maybe many somewhere, who would see the beauty that I know is there?
And now I can (so can you) and I do, and then I hear the YES from the universe. There is someone in South Africa who knows just what I mean. Someone in New Zealand who says I have thought that very thing all of my life and never, until now, have I seen it so perfectly expressed. There is a painter in London who has printed out the poem and put it on the wall of his studio. Some reader, somewhere, has laughed or cried. I just know it.
I’m going to keep on writing.