It is not what you write or what you produce as you write that is important.
It is what happens to you while you are writing that is important.
It is who you become while you are writing that is important.
Well, that takes some pressure off.
After last week's writing retreat, I'm picking through the ruins of my journal, searching for nuggets of promise. This is the mix of hope and dread; I felt so 'in-the-moment' while writing and later, upon rereading, time and distance diminish the heat and my words seem flat and routine. Does this happen to you, too?
I am heartened by DeSalvo's sentiment of process over results. I also find perspective from Candice Crossley, whom I met at the retreat. Using Lonesome Pine Special, a poem by Charles Wright, as our prompt, we lifted his line:
The road in is always longer than the road out,
Even if it's the same road. . .
As I dig through the muck of my journal, Candice's response offers me much-needed perspective:
There is no arriving
There is only the going
You can fashion a beautiful writing
And drop it on the side
You have not come to the end
Of that small perfect poem
You will find another . . .
That is not the last dark stand of trees
Or burst of flowers
Or glorious vista
The horizon is always there in front of you
And you will never reach it
You will only move towards it
— Candice Crossley
excerpted from The road in is always longer than the road out.
This post prompted some great feedback. I'd like to share the following response from Linnea Harper. It's not a poem, she says, but a poetical thought. I think it is both, and speaks to the dreaded critic that resides too often in my head (and yours, too?).
when we write-- a wonderful question!
Who we become after we write
is also important and you say
you get doubtful if you don't like the
the problem with which is that
(in my humble opinion)
the critic has undermined you
which is neither good for Poetry (especially yours)
nor good for You
But what if this doubt is a necessary
part of the process that drives you
to go further-- then aren't you back to
sadness driving the art
at least part of the way home?
So dear dear Drew, could you be
just a bit more Drew-id about all of this
and let the healing beauty of the place
(I too have been embraced by Menucha)
preside at the table of your inner debate?
Unseat the critic!
On the right hand seat the gatekeeper
the handmaiden of healings
who infringes on underminings
and whispers you a new script;
on the left hand seat your best scavenger,
the bargain hunter
who can always pluck
the one notion, word, line, or feeling
with the juiciest juice
out of any old pile of words
and report on the findings. Now
you may offer one more time
your scrawling scribbles
up to the assembled company
for dessert; It's a healing!