Oil and Water; or On Feeling Heartened…If Not Entirely Optimistic…

As I’ve written before, I have a love/hate relationship with the magazine Poets & Writers (Fear and Loathing on the Publication Trail: https://wp.me/pCJhS-1L), wreaking as it does in me the havoc of hope and despair with each turn of the page. But what a wonderful little jolt I got from an article in the most recent issue.

In “On the Trail,” Mary Allen meditates on rejection, writing, and faith. She writes: “If writing gets too tied up in ego, or in the desire for approval, faith can get lost. I have an inking that for writers, faith resides inside the act of writing itself — that if you stop writing for any stretch of time you’ll lose your faith, and if you lose your faith for any reason, the act of writing will lose its luster in your mind. And all the allure and appeal and belief that writing is a sensible, worthwhile endeavor will leave you, and you’ll be depressed, disheartened, deflated — because you will have lost the very thing that keeps you going.”

I had been feeling that very thing — depressed, disheartened — and know in some ways it is an ego thing (when I announced to my writing group that I was in the slough of despond, their only reaction was along the lines of “Still?”), okay, in ALL ways it is an ego thing. And Allen prods me to get back to business.

Even if I think I have nothing to say, I need to say stuff anyway — what I see, what I imagine, what I remember, or just words for the sheer glorious sound of them.

I tire of toiling in obscurity but it’s not the obscurity that’s important but the toil. Toil is etymologically from the idea of crushing something (namely, olives, way back when), and I like that. And obscure only means, after all, cover. And a camera obscura is a dark room in which a fine image can be projected.

 

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