30 November 2009

Writing and Arrival




While earning my undergraduate degree, I was ten years older than most of the students in my classes. I was filled with gratitude to finally know what I wanted to do with my life. I was mature enough to see my dreams through. But I struggled with the fear that I had come to writing too late. I had lost too much time. There would be no catching up.

I hope you know that these fears are ridiculous. Most days I know that they are ridiculous as well until I see an early-twenty-something poet old winning a national book prize. I would like to call this feeling fear, but its jealousy.

If I am going to get honest with myself, I need to face some facts:

1. I couldn't write about the things I am writing about now ten years ago. The view from my early 30s is much different than from my early 20s.

2. In my early 20s I was still in love with the idea of being a painter and was too undisciplined to actually paint or finish my degree.

3. If I am still writing poetry because I want to fame, not only is the line long, but I had better be prepared for heartbreak.

4. Jealousy can only generate so many poems before it will burn me into cinders.


An elderly woman purchasing a sci-fi novel from me confessed that she hadn’t started reading the genre until she was in her mid 50s. She said, “I was going through all sorts of horrible things in my life and needed an escape. I found sci-fi just in time.”

The truth is that I came to writing at the right time. If I had come to it any sooner, I would not have been ready to embrace the grinding work of writing and revising. I could not have handled the initial crush of rejection.

Writing arrived in my life at precise moment it was supposed to and it saved me.

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