Twitter Makes Me Mad…Then Redeems Itself...
I’ll start by saying I know that Twitter is NOT the place to go if I want to feel good about most things. It’s a bloody battlefield out there, but from time to time I appreciate finding new people and whatever work they are doing.
Last night, I ended up on a young poet’s page and started looking at some of her poems and tweets. The most recent tweet I saw was about how when she tells people she’s a poet, they often say oh, my grandma wrote a poem or my husband writes poetry for me, etc. She was not amused that others write poetry as a “hobby” when she bleeds for it.
I thought, well that’s kind of mean. I continued to click through and read the latest poem of hers that was published in the New Yorker.
It’s hard to get published in the New Yorker, like really fucking hard, it might even be superhuman. I have no doubt this person loves their craft, and has given up so much for it, but do you have to put other people down to lift your work up to where it needs to be? You already have validation for your writing. I know that took years and years of strife, but isn’t that what helped make you and your work, that struggle? Can people bleed in different ways? What makes one way of bleeding more important than another? Because a degree and/or a magazine says so? Obviously, Grandma’s poem ain’t gonna make it to the pushcart prize, so why do you resent its existence? Could you thank them for sharing and trying to connect with you and move on, or is that just too hard?
I had to stop at that point, or else I never would spiraled for hours. I thought that I was over it, until this morning in my Yin class. While in ten-minute caterpillar hold it came up again. What the fuck man. Why do people have to be so, belittling? It reminded me of the struggle, that one where it feels like you’re just shouting into the void about trying to get any kind of person or thing to pat you on the head and say good girl, pretty words, you can now be part of the conversation. You matter. Then you hate yourself for wanting that pat. I just got really pissed the longer I sat there with it. All my hang ups of course, but I’m sure other people may have similar ones.
The algorithm gods must have been trying to soothe me when I got home, because today on my feed was a re-tweet that snapped back at the first tweet. Essentially saying that not everybody benefits from the same route. The language of “hobby” poetry is just a put down for those who don’t have access to, or don’t feel the traditional avenues of paying thousands of dollars just to get workshopped in an MFA program where many people don’t feel safe and are marginalized doesn’t make sense. I really had no way to say it better.
Having a day job is common and doesn’t make you less of a writer. Many people operate small and local. They don’t make money off the hours they spend running small presses or taking their own time to promote themselves and go to readings and find representation on top of having to do all those mundane things such as have the money to eat. Guess what, it’s all for love, so let it be.
We all wish we could be making money off the writing we do, but the benefit that it can give communities is immense. Even a small poetry club at a local library, or at a senior center. I’ve seen it heal, for some people it can be the difference between life and death.
Take a path that’s right for you and allow people to do the same. Be proud of your work, be an advocate for others, and help if you can. Give honest feedback if somebody is asking, but don’t just straight out disregard somebody who is sharing because they don’t write like you. Even if you “think” you are better than them it should only validate your feelings of grandiosity, right? So, support somebody who’s trying, and they will grow.
If you’re somebody at that point where you are trying to get published or thinking about how it all works and how you don’t know anybody’s that’s done this or whatever, I recommend this read:
Jessica Crispin from Bookslut wrote a really great essay in it, that helped me when I was having a rough time. Overall, it’s just an insightful read, because it’s rough out there whatever your creative endeavor.
My first point is… don’t stop, ever. Especially if you love it, or have a voice that seems a little different. We need all kinds of art. It’s a wide freaking world, and you’re part of it, so be part of it. And second… maybe chill out from Twitter for a while because it’s probably not too good for your blood pressure.