Mediocrity

I’ve been thinking a lot on this restlessness I feel about writing. It never really goes away–I tell myself, “I have 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5) kids now, it is high time I quit writing” but I can’t. And why? My work is not what I want it to be. It isn’t because of lack of writing time (though, seriously, I am home with 4 kids, ages 1-7 and I homeschool and my husband works long hours), or space or support. It is because of lack of talent. I am just not as good as I wish I was.

I was reading The Fish the other day, the classic anthologized Elizabeth Bishop poem, and it is just so good. And I read Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath (the book before Ariel–I like this one better for some reason, though its considered transitional), and it is so very good. Listening to the Daily Poem podcast, they played Mending Wall by Robert Frost — as anthologized and read and reread as it is, it is so good and worth reading and rereading. I want to write poetry like that! Like Robert Lowell and Louise Gluck, Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickinson.

I don’t want to be famous–I don’t even care if I write these poems and only my family reads them. But I want to be able to write. those. poems.

How do I get there? Chances are, my talent has taken me about as far as it goes and I’ll only get better in little increments, never reaching the lofty heights of a truly great poet like the ones I so very  much wish I could write like.

But maybe that is ok, and that is what drives me to keep writing–the tension between what I can create and what I envision creating.

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1 thought on “Mediocrity”

  1. I’ve had this very same thought more than once, but what consoles me is the realization that my very best poems are actually also better than I can write! Ordinary poets CAN write extraordinary poetry, I believe, if we can just figure out how to practice a sort of Taoist openness or Keatsian negative capability.

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