“You choose to be a novelist, but you’re chosen to be a poet. This is a gift and it’s a tremendous responsibility. You have to be willing to give something terribly intimate and secret of yourself to the world and not care, because you have to believe that what you have to say is important enough.”
Not a novelist, I can’t speak from experience if a person chooses to be a novelist.
And I can’t say a thing about other professions. Does a person choose or are they chosen to be a doctor? Lawyer? Auto mechanic? Dentist?
I have finally recognized that I have been chosen to be a poet.
The other day I had lunch with my friend and fellow poet, Jenice. We hadn’t had lunch for a couple months and were catching up.
I told her I was focusing intensely on my writing and being cautious about where I put my energy, recognizing that although I have a lot of energy, it has its limits and that I want to use it on what matters to me, as much as possible. For example, I don’t want to put energy into creating and marketing workshops or finding places to give public poetry readings and in preparing for them.
She commented about how we have to be careful not to dissipate our creative energy.
Our conversation reminded me of an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver. Mary said that she had teaching jobs over the years to support herself, but she “never took any interesting ones,” because she “didn’t want to get interested.” Continue Reading »