I “live” on the internet, pretty much. Not exactly on social media, like so many. That includes my children, always on Facebook. I suppose most people “live” online these days, “socializing,” or working. Without a computer, I’d have no life at all.
I read lit sights. Electric Literaure, for instance. That’s a pretty cool one. I think that’s where I learned about this book. Or maybe it was some other site, I don’t remember. Anyway, I’m reading The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break. I just started it, and I’m loving it. Geezus, just the title. The writer’s name is Steven Sherrill. Awe, man, I feel a self-pitying jealousy. I love this guy’s bio. He dropped out of high school in 10th grade. Later got a Welding Diploma at a community college. Then somehow ended up with an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Now he’s an Associate Professor of English and Integrative Arts. Super, super, super cool. (This past summer, I wrote a poem where I referenced the Minotaur. It’s a poem called, “The Spell of Love.” Not that it means anything. Just interesting to me that suddenly the Minotaur has shown up twice recently.)
I dropped out of high school too. Got married in 11th grade, and didn’t return for my senior year. Divorced at 30. Raising three kids, got my BA in English at 38. But that is where my accomplishments end. The rest is simply survival. Office jobs I hated, and quit. I didn’t mind the work, I minded the people I worked with and for. I did a little bit of substitute teaching, which took so much out of me, but I have fond memories of difficult students I won over. The “real” teachers were shittier to deal with. And in some schools, administration was shitty. But I’ve reached “retirement” age, so… I write and work on creative projects. Which to me is my real work. But I gotta get published, legitimize my writing, and myself as writer.
I told this Poet (that is capital “P”) here in The City, “I don’t even know if I really am a poet.” He says, “Don’t worry about a label. If writing makes you happy, then just write and don’t worry about the rest.” But writing doesn’t make me happy. It scares the shit out of me. What makes me happy is when I write a poem, or anything else, that I like. That is the shot in the arm. Or when I hear cheers when I go up to the mic. Or when someone tells me they like my poetry. Recently, a woman, who is a science professor, and also writes novels, who bought my little DIY chapbook, sent me an email
and told me she read my poems and was in awe. Wow, that was a great compliment. She said she was having company over for dinner that night and planned to read some of my poems to them. I never asked her if she actually did. Nor, will I. I wonder if she read “What it’s Like.” It starts out, “I know what it’s like/to get drunk/and fall on my face./It isn’t pretty./”
I need to feel compelled to write. You know, inspired. One of my long-time fave country singers thinks that anyone who claims they have to wait for inspiration isn’t a real artist. That it takes work, that’s all. (She didn’t say it, someone else did. She simply agreed.) Well, yeah, it takes work. But I need inspiration to get started. I need to feel something deep inside me that I dig for, grab, wrestle with, and then release. It’s a lot like giving birth. It’s painful and also joyous. But the pain is emotional, psychological, not physical. Well, actually, I do feel something physical. It’s heavy and I feel its weight. Anyway, I was disappointed that this country singer I love agreed with that statement. It hurt my feelings. I certainly don’t know her personally. I’m just a fan. I was following her on Twitter, and she responded to someone who said it, someone she knows. (I’m not on Twitter anymore.) It pushed the buttons of my insecurity. That low self-esteem I’ve been trying to kick. It fucking sneaks up on me.
Maybe I’m not what I think I am. Maybe I’m just a wannabe, a pathetic fool. Is my verse alive? Does it breathe?
I wrote a short story called “La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)” a couple weeks ago. I’m polishing it now. I cut out a chunk and am going to make that a separate story. I’m hoping this project turns into a number of stories, or a novella. I’ll have to see what it wants to be. I don’t control my writing, as much as it controls me. It wants to be born. My part is to help it come to life.
I drag my feet on submitting. I submitted last year to this particular mag, and they never responded. Didn’t even bother send me a rejection. Not by mail, not by email. Didn’t even return my poems that I sent with an SASE. All I got was crickets. Chirp, chirp, chirp. I had told someone, “If they reject me, fuck ’em.” We both laughed. I meant what I said. Fuck ’em. Yet, truth is, I was injured and I bled a little. Maybe I did something wrong. I don’t know. I actually do believe in my writing. It’s in myself that I lack confidence. I told this science professor/novelist,”I’m super shy, but my poetry isn’t shy.” Goddamnit, I’m such a weenie.
I had a recurring dream last week. Been having it for at least 25 years. I dream I’m late, and miss a deadline, or a date. The dream itself changes, but it’s the same theme of running late, being caught unprepared, and missing out. It’s a dream of losing, actually, of being a fuck-up. In this one, I had a school assignment due, a poetry reading to give in front of the class. But I ran late, and then couldn’t find all my poems, wasn’t ready, and I got there an hour late with a couple poems in my hand, hoping I could pull it off anyway. The teacher (not a professor I ever had in real life) frowned and told me, “You’re too late.”
BTW, Happy Halloween.