Defining Success

Lately I have been butting up against the question of what is success for me? It is no longer grad school. It is no longer teaching. I am really getting into art, but all questions of skill level aside, the very idea of going to an art show sends me into a panic.

Yet I do want to get my writing out into the world. To this end I am considering self-publishing, which is one of the things that came up in therapy. The question for therapy was about what I would do if I felt I was good enough. Maybe self-publishing is it. I’m not saying I’m ruling out pursuing traditional publishing. But I haven’t been doing that lately and that’s not really where my heart is. I’m just not sure, since publishing a poetry book yourself is not looked well upon. But I’m not trying to make money and I’m not somebody who’s looking for admission into any school, getting any teaching job, or getting any Fellowship. What I really want is for people to read my writing and like it. Or, if it’s on the blog where people can comment on what I wrote or send me an email, people to read my writing and give me critique. Helpful criticism is always great. I just want to get my writing out in the world. That’s what I really want.

I admitted last night in the midst of depression fueled complaining to my husband that I felt like a failure, that nothing I have done has amounted to anything. Being a man, he tried to fix the problem. I appreciate this quality in him, but obviously not every issue I have can be fixed. If it can be fixed he isn’t always the one who can fix it. He questioned me and what I finally got across to him, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on directly before, is that I want to be noticed. I’m isolated. Part of that is my choice. I’m about as gregarious as a spider. But part of that is simply my circumstances as a housewife. Someone better at networking than me may be able to do better than what I am doing, but I don’t know who they are or how they’re doing it.

I just want someone to read my poems. I love it when you guys read my poems. It makes me so happy. I want my art to be seen by people. Ideally I’d like to be appreciated by somebody. I’m not trying to sell it. Some of it I think looks really interesting but either isn’t of the caliber to be sold or isn’t the style that would sell. Still other things I make are things that are by nature impermanent. For instance, you could do pretty interesting things with watercolor on fabric softener. But that’s not something you’re going to be able to seal in and hang on a gallery wall somewhere. It’s really something you take a picture of while it’s fresh and then that’s what’s left of the art. And honestly that’s all I want.

What Craig thought was an expression of dissatisfaction with my life because I couldn’t articulate myself very well is in fact a sense of isolation and of being ignored. I love my life. I wake up in a nice home, spend the day with my daughter, take care of appointments and house work that needs to be done, and spend a whole lot of time reading. When times are good this means I get to enjoy a lot. When times are bad it means that I have much more time to spend at home recuperating than I would if I had made other life choices. My life is perfect for me. But the old ambitious parts of me just longs to see my name up in lights.

I’m giving this a lot of thought. What I think I want to do is just build up this blog. At the end of the day grad school is out of the question and I’m way too much of hermit to pursue much of anything out of the house. And what I really love is coming on here to post the things that I make and the things that I write. That’s what I look forward to. So maybe self-publishing is the right thing to do. If not, then blogging definitely is. And blogging is fundamentally a form of self-publishing. I have what I need. I just need to use it more freely.

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