Sunday, December 31, 2006

How do we measure success?

I've just finished pulling together six submission packets, a big push for the beginning of the year. And I have to ask myself, "Why?"

Why do I think someone will want to read my poems, much less publish them (or the other way around)? Why do I feel so inadequate when I read the resumes of people who have had 16 books published and who have won Pushcart Prizes and other awards (a list as long as my arm)?
If the question is about how we measure success, the first question becomes: What is success? What does it look like in the poetry world?

Really, it's about writing the very best poem that I can write—a goal that is and should be always shifting. But that is difficult or maybe impossible to measure. Instead, while I'm trying to write that poem and any or all of the others, I'm looking for some tangible standard that somehow bestows validity on my efforts (yes, it's okay that you're doing this and by sharing your work you are not always wasting someone else's time and good attention). In the meantime, I'm ruing the fact that my resume comes up lacking, that my work is not good enough or I am not good enough, and trying to find ways to fit in and get the acknowledgment that it's okay.

These are not the best reasons of my reasons to write or the best desires to chase, but I guess they're human.

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