This morning I read a poem in a collection I have been reading by John Daniel called “Of Earth”, and decided to share it on my blog. Of course it wasn’t enough for me to just share the poem, because through the process of reading the poem, I began thinking about the writing process in general, and how reading poetry is my way of staying accountable to my writing self.
I first met John at a writing conference in Edmonds, Washington, and we chatted a bit while he was signing a book for me. The book was a memoir called “Looking After” and it affected me so much, I sent him an email telling him so. Months later he returned the email, appreciative of my reaching out and sharing with him how much his story moved me.
I had just begun writing in earnest when I sent him that email three years ago. He was kind to respond, and ended his response with—You have just the right attitude toward creative writing: that it’s a worthy path in and of itself, regardless of outward forms of success or failure.
As a beginning writer, I am sure I was happy just to be writing, and did not care about measuring myself by publications or acceptances and since I had none, it was easy to say it did not matter. Now that I have some however, I find his words even more meaningful, because everyday I must return to that pure state of writing, and fight hard not to measure my success on numbers of poems accepted or not.
Everyday I work hard to flush the voices (and there are many) of ego and distraction out of my head and find my way back to my pure place—where I write to understand my world and how I fit in it.
When I read words like these from John’s poem, we walk here in the light of this unlikely world that isn’t ours for long, I am gently reminded of the path I need to stay on and how small a window I truly have to write about this homeland of all we love.
Here is John’s lovely poem “A Prayer among Friends.”
Yours in poetry,