Monday, June 22, 2009

A Good Hurt

I've been stuck in a low spot for several days, and avoided blogging. I decided that nobody needed to be brought down with me. I'm back now; and it helps that the sun was shining on my way in to the office today. That didn't happen once last week.
When you are once sure what your real interest is, everything goes down before it like grass under a roller - all other interests, both your own and other people's.
--Miss DeVine, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Two extremely intelligent, well-educated women were talking in this scene about knowing what is one's "proper job." For some, it might be science or a craft, or art. For others, it can be another person. For many of us, we struggle to be sure we know what our proper job is, doubting even that we have a proper job. If we just stop and observe what we take the most care to do right, that will point us in the right direction. Where our genuine interest lies, we cannot, will not make do with meager effort, or with fudging the truth (Miss DeVine suggests it will be the one thing you cannot lie about).

This morning I had an email response from an online journal to which I had submitted two poems. Neither of the poems was accepted; I had in fact submitted rather sooner after writing them than I usually do. It normally takes months for me to draft a poem, work with it, leave it alone, revisit it, then go through the last two steps a few more times. The poetry editor took the time to write nearly a full page of editorial comment. While I am generally too easily discouraged by criticism, I found the editor's remarks to be stimulating, even on the rebound from a week of depression. I can't wait to get to work on the poems.

Writing is the thing for me, though for many years I doubted that. My need for encouragement and praise goes "down like grass under the roller" in the drive to write well. Writing the truth, in any context, will inevitably cause problems with the people in our lives, but I need to write my truth, not without respect for other people but without being controlled by their interests. More often than not, the result is some degree of isolation. The need to protect myself from exposure succumbed to the promise of writing better if I write openly in a blog. The costs of doing the job well are no deterrent when the job is the right one.

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