Professional’s Don’t Fail

Now that I have claimed I am a professional writer, I look for the perks. One of them I figured to be was no more failures. But you know what? That isn’t true. The hallmark of any professional is failure.

Almost enough to make one go back to amateur status. In the investment business, I often wondered why owners of a company would take it public. It could be taken over by someone else. I thought of that as failure. Most of the time though that kind of failure came with a handsome monetary reward.

In writing I don’t see monetary rewards in failure. Maybe that is why I think it should not be part of being a professional writer. Where are the rewards?

Steven Pressfield writes in his book the War of Art, “Nothing is as empowering as real-world validation, even if it’s for failure.”

I can’t wait.

Sunsets and Mistakes

Yesterday I watched a sunset from the top of a hill overlooking Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. It was a thousand foot view of self. Our perfect weather of late made for a blue sky with just enough clouds to allow some red and orange against the blue.

For me it spelled present and future wrapped into one. Hope. Whatever mistakes I made yesterday, I could place on that setting sun, knowing when it rose again, it would be with a clean slate except for some small trace of red. The blue forgot and the red remembered, but the blue definitely ruled.

Reaching Outside Ourselves

The title is a quality that David Orr writes about in his book Beautiful & Pointless. A quality he thinks successful poetry should have, for then, “The path to a richer political poetry is open.”

Thinking out loud, my mind wonders how frequently I am successful at reaching outside myself. I think I do it often. Isn’t it called observation? The difference can be seen in driving a car. When I return home, even from a ride to the post office, how much did I see outside of myself. To be poetic, I have to write it down before I return to me.

I think this is why writing is cathartic. It brings both self and outside to the forefront. It is how I interact with life. How am I feeling? Why is what I observe causing me to feel thus and such? Along the way, I drop self behind and climb a few thousand feet as I watch me watching myself. I reach for what I am not to discover what I am.

Politics and Poetry

Until I read David Orr’s Beautiful & Pointless, I never thought of connecting politics to poetry. Historically it was mainstream, but poetry in our society is beyond the fringe.  The most popular type of pundit poetry in our more worldly world is Duck Dynasty. Poet laureates are fading away.

A poet is still present at the Presidential Inauguration, but does anybody listen enough to remember what was said? Was the last poet at an inauguration male or female? Historically poetry was profoundly connected to politics, but who can explain what purpose it served?

In 1821 Percy Bysshe Shelly wrote, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

The only part of this that must seem relevant to the average person in our society is the word “unacknowledged.” Poetry and politics; a connection replaced by duck whistles and washed out of the common place by mobs of cyber spacers. As such, the politics of poetry has become invisible.

Historically, politicians could hear the poets and most likely wished they would go away. Now it is not worth the energy to protest. Who cares?

Poets have been pushed aside along with meaningful prophets. The new reality is the reality show. Poetry is interesting only when it is couched in the prophecy of the apocalyptic. Fox News and MSNBC are the new free verse.

The Professional: Claiming an Anniversary

Steven Pressfield writes about the concept of Professional is his book the War of Art. “The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full time.”

I see it as a mindset. Is there any profession that produces genuine home cooking without claiming it? Claiming is not only better for us, but for the recipients of our efforts. Anything I do must be claimed in order to do it well. Otherwise, I flounder, not really believing.

I thought putting writing on my bucket list was an action plan.  I am now convinced that having it there has been more a disclaimer than a claim. It is time to take it off. Today I am coming out. I am a writer. This is the day I turn pro.

Today, September 26, 2013, I became a professional writer. Its on my calendar along with birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Come to the party.

Grass is Greener

Three lines from Robert Browning’s “One Word More” written in 1855

“None would forego his proper dowry, Does he paint? he fain would write a poem.Does he write? he fain would paint a picture.”

With so many courses to take online, we now can study anything and often for free.Tired of being who you are? transform. Browning indicates that once we are established in a profession, we could very well long for another. Not so easy in 1855, but in today’s world if we are an artist, tomorrow we can be a brain surgeon.

I have taken several courses online. For my last two, one was in physics and other was in computers. I passed them both and have certificates to show for it. I am an expert in nothing. Sounds like a fitting epitaph. One I would like.


Would be writers love being wooed by workshops. Say that ten times as fast as you can.

I, not liking parties, have a natural immunity to such events. A good thing. I can find enough resistance to writing without submitting to workshops. We don’t know anything about resistance until we try setting aside time for something we love to do, For some reason, it is then that resistance appears in capital letters.

It is what culls the population of artists, and perhaps thousands of other professions. Steven Pressfield in his book the War of Art suggests that workshops begin by offering a PH.D. in resistance. What he hates even more than writer’s workshops is the word support. “Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gather around at your deathbed.” Yea, I think, they would all look so damn healthy. 

When Mom and Dad would Take Us to the Park

The above phrase I lifted out of a book I am reading. The book is called Beautiful & Pointless, a guide to modern poetry by David Orr, who is or was the poetry columnist for the NY Times Book Review.

It set me to thinking about where mom and dad took me. I started a list, they took me to church, vacations, Phillie’s games (just with dad), seashore in August, museums, ice skating (once), concerts, cocktail parties, and adult to adult visits. I am sure there is more, but this is what I came up within sixty seconds or so.

I stare at those and think of some wonderful memories. Three are exceptions to wonderful. Ice skating, cocktail parties, and adult to adult visits. The good news is ice skating was only once. They respected the fact that it was embarrassing for me. I could not get my ankles off the ice.

I wish they could have seen my ankles on the ice for all three of my “wonderful” exceptions. Going to a party or someone’s home is how I imagine it would be traveling with Garrison Keillor. My dad loved to tell stories and not necessarily new ones. In his defense he told them well, but he never let any other family members on stage. I don’t think my mother cared, but I did.

Oh well, as it has turned out okay. I saved them for later.