Q for the Poet
From time to time, someone asks a question that makes for a great blog post. Today's Q comes from AmbiguityLotus.
"I was wondering--how do you get past the attitude/feeling of, 'My poems aren't good enough for publication?' I'd like to hear your thoughts about that as that's how I feel most of the time, aside from being intimidated about the process!"
First of all, I don't know any poet who hasn't had that feeling at some point. It's like the flu—no matter how many shots you get, it never really goes away.
I carry with me the same fears that I had in grad school when I was surrounded by talented people who never thought their work would see the light of day. Later, when I was starting a family and not writing regularly, I felt as if I would never get published. I lacked those small successes poets have that encourage us to keep trying. Then my college cohorts started getting published in good journals, reading in cool venues, and getting grants. Let me tell you, it was a wake-up call! I felt life was passing me by. I did the only thing I could do with young kids in tow—I started this blog.
So here I am, blogging away two years later. Not a moment goes by that I don't a tinge of self-doubt, as if I'm getting away with something. Posting poems was (and still is) a great way to get immediate feedback when I couldn't attend workshops.
Poetry is subjective and personal, so it's hard not to be intimidated about the process. But the best defense against doubt is hard work and persistence. Getting published means swallowing a lot of rejections. Try not to make it personal. On any given day, you may find the right reader at a journal or zine who will give you the chance for publication. Keep busy. Try not to let self-doubt creep up on you. Use it as a motivator. Do something every day to keep you moving toward your goal.
Does that help? I welcome comments from other writers about how to keep fear and self-doubt at bay.