Observations, thoughts and other assorted stuff.
The wrong way to perfection
Published on June 21, 2008 By Ravenblack In Life Journals

(This article is an extended response to MasonM's article "Perfection Is Overrated".)

 

When I started writing again a couple of years back, stuff just sort of flowed out of me like water. There was no effort and it was a joy to write, poems, stories, whatever.

In my attempts to do well and to impress more people, I might have caused an injury to my own creative spirit.

About two years ago, I embarked on a quest to get my poems published. Knowing next to nothing about the standards required, I sent a batch off to a couple of online poetry journal sites (and I don't mean poetry.com).

They were promptly rejected.

I wasn't exactly surprised. I wasn't that naive to think that it can all happen for me overnight.

Actually the rejection letters didn't make me feel bad or even discouraged but they made me even more determined to better my craft.

So, I bought a lot of poetry books, read all I can from books and online poetry sites. I wrote stuff and put some of that through some honest no-holds barred critique. I really felt like I learnt a lot and improved quite a bit too when I was doing that.

Every couple of months, I was sending stuff off to online poetry journals. All of them were rejected. And yet with all this, it was not the rejections that hurt me. Instead of taking things at proper pace, I started really pushing it. I gave myself datelines, and forced myself to do writing exercises and "assignments" which looking back now, is a good way to make something very unenjoyable.

I think that's when I tore something, like an athlete might tear a ligament overdoing it.

In the end, the work produced had no heart. A lot of the work I did started looking forced. And then I just don't want to write at all. All this because I wanted so much to do well and get accepted / published / etc.

I have no doubt I will go back to it again. I hope I will not make the same mistakes in pace and attitude again.


Comments
on Jun 21, 2008
I've been there before. Art has to flow, man. You put a deadline on it and it suddenly becomes work instead of enjoyment, I guess.

I'm eager to read some of your poetry, when you get around to it.
on Jun 21, 2008
Ha! To damage oneself in the craft of writing is the easiest thing in the world when you write for others and not yourself. Take this place: I Write Something all the time and the vast overwhelming majority of it goes ignored. I know, it's my fault! I'm not interested in politics or controversy that much at all -in fact, I write to ESCAPE politics and controversy! I get enough of that drama in RL thank-you-very-much.

But...keep writing! I submitted a story to a magazine once and FOUR YEARS later they called me and said they wanted to publish it! Paid me $380 too! So to sum up my advice? Screw everybody else and screw all the naysayers and critics and dipshits here that ignore you here and get all hot 'n bothered about Obama etc. insead. What Ravenblack needs to do is write for...Ravenblack. And the rest will fall into place in time.
on Jun 21, 2008

Yep, what he said.

 

I disagree with SanCho a bit.  Sometimes you need to sit your butt in the chair and start to write.  Write crap if you have to but then the flow comes back-- like getting rusty pipes to flow clear.  You have to turn them on and flush them out.

on Jun 21, 2008
I'm not a writer, never have been, so I can't give you any advice. But I'm cheering for you! Good luck with your writing, and post some of it.
on Jun 21, 2008

SanChonino, Roy, Momijiki, Cedarbird:

Thanks for your words of encouragement and advice. Very heartening. :]

on Jun 21, 2008

LW: Hey! I know about that site! Went by the nick of "Bluesky_" when I was there.

You are right, it's the best poetry forum on the internet. I love their Blurbs of Wisdom section, where they have tons of guides on techniques. I tried to be active there for a while, but to be an participant takes quite some dedication. You critique 3 poems for every one that you want to post, and you have to try your best to be clear and give reasons for your comments. I did learn a lot there.

You have to have humble attitude to be there. You will really get scolded if you write carelessly and I was careful to post the few that I had repeatedly revised and made sure was not cliche or typical.


Maybe I'll get back in there. I haven't been there for a while. Start by reading the poems and crits, maybe that will feed the urge to write again.


I bought a Poet's Market back at the end of 2005, which is how I got a list of poetry journals to send to. Might be time for a new edition if I want to start again. But I'm trying not make that one of my main goals this time.

 

"Balancing the two is often difficult"

You speak the truth. Very easy to go either way in writing I find.

 

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