Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"I'm Nobody, Who Are You?"

I'm in the process of cleaning out my bookshelves. In the trash go books entitled, "How to write a Proposal That Will Sell" and "Writer's Market" and "Writer's Block." Just now I finished taking the tabs out of a notebook that had all that stuff in it: proposals written queries sent, lists of agents, and so forth. This is how I quit writing and tried to get a life!

Pat Schneider in her book "Writing Alone and With Others" says, "If you can quit, by all means do!" meaning there is a certain compulsiveness about the writing life. I've tried to quit before, but I always felt worse not writing than writing. This time, though, I think it's working out.

First of all, the problem: Writing is one thing but then you finish something and you want somebody to read it! You start sending it around. You attend a conference and the speakers say you have to sell yourself. You start selling yourself and nobody's buying. (It might work out differently if somebody was!) Then you realize you should be going to poetry readings et cetera. You should be getting a web site, you should be constructing something called a platform. You should be preparing a "list of names." This is how it is today if you want readers.

You tell yourself, Well every job has some irksome chores you must do in order to attain your goal. Then you realize it is not some chores you dislike; you dislike the whole thing--not the goal perhaps, which you would like to attain at least once. But the lists and the submissions and the putting oneself out there? It turns out I'm no good at it!!

And then once you have something out there, you have to make appearances et cetera and develop a little show about yourself. Otherwise nobody will buy your published writings and therefore nobody would read them.

I always thought I was going to do these things when I had time. But I never realized how obnoxious it would be--because it was just failure after failure. There is "try try again" and then there is the definition of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

I don't have that much in common with Emily Dickinson: her genius, her lack of kids and grandkids. But the decision to be nobody! Yep.

"I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

"How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!"


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