I’m walking on this path of life and declared my purpose to be the search for inspiration. Sometimes the road is long and boring and sometimes there are waves of wonderful things to see and touch and hear and taste. So much that I can’t possibly consume it all and not miss something. Yesterday was one of those glorious days full of experience, thought, and emotion.
Too much from the day to recount all of it so I will just focus on the highlight which was the feedback reading I attended. They changed the format from previous readings and the interaction/feedback was greatly reduced. It felt more like a standard poetry reading by two great authors whose work has been published and the pieces they read were polished and perfected. No feedback needed. Wait? Isn’t that the point of a feedback reading? To get feedback from the audience on some work in progress? If they want to change the format then they should change the name too, in my opinion. But I digress.
The two poets they had were just phenomenal and clearly seasoned veterans at presenting their own work. One was a poetry slam champion so it’s no wonder she brought me to tears and the other was a woman who decided when she was 39 to quit her professional job and pursue her passion in writing. Hey, that sounds familiar!
I’ve had no update on my MFA application and I’ve been strangely at ease with that. I think I’m scared about it. If I get a negative response I’m going to have even bigger issues with my insecurities about my abilities than I already do. If I get a positive response, then I’m faced with the decision to keep going, invest in myself, and actively take on more risk than I already have quitting my job. Like a giant fork in the road which lay before me and this decision will put me on a path where the road sign at that juncture will all at once show up in my rear view.
If I take the road less traveled, I’m all-in. I cannot happily skip along both paths. There is only one of me and I have limited time and resources.
Meeting Airea D. Matthews, author of the Yale Younger Poets Prize-winning for her collection, Simulacra, was validation that following ones instincts is the right thing to do and that the results can be amazing. She was the one who had a “normal” life with a husband and four children and a career and one day decided to change her life.
I spoke briefly with her and at the end of that conversation she said she was looking forward to reading my work. Uhhhh, what?!
I did not speak directly with Rachel McKibbens, who has a book, Blud, which is fresh out from Copper Canyon Press. She was the one who is a Slam success and her path was very different but still validating with the notion that you can do what you want despite many tough obstacles. Her obsticles are far and away more difficult than anything I’ve ever imagined. If money is my only hurdle, then I should just shut my mouth right now and “go for it”.
However, hearing their work left a very polar opposite thought in my brain. My life and experiences may not be enough. My passion for the craft may not be enough and my talent is questionable. My poetry is very one dimensional compared to these women.
Is the difference years of focus on their work or is it raw talent and life experience? I can’t know the answer to this which puts the scale of my decision back in balance. Most of the time I’m preaching all about balance but in this case, I really would like something to tip this scale in one direction or another. In the end, it’s my life and my decision. I’m afraid of screwing it up.
I think when I do get some feedback on my MFA application, that will help. Until then, I’ll just keep walking this path soaking it all in.
Whistling While I Walk,