Recently a close friend of mine launched her poetry page on Facebook. Several people, me included, wrote posts congratulating her. Then THIS guy, who I will call Richard, shows up: typos, spelling and punctuation errors are from the actual transcript. I admit I don't fare well here, either. I have changed names to protect innocent and guilty parties except my own.
AJ: Congrats, now [my daughter] Julie and I can post poems and her illustrations.
RICHARD: why not REAL writing??? I would write a Poem demand anytime of the day....but a novel!!!! Wow.
RICHARD: so another bs journal of poems that no one will read....ppl hate poetry with all due respect .
RICHARD: poetry on FB!
DAVE: Rick. :(
ME: People love poetry. Even on FB. Poetry unites souls of all stripes.
RICHARD I still KNOW that sooooooooooo few ppl read or understand real poetry.
RICHARD: Laura...good. Lets see ur real TOTally original really moving or real????
DAVE: I can hear my grandmother saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
RICHARD: no moon in June
RICHARD: so what
ME: Go away.
RICHARD: i SAY WHAT I SEE AND FEEL.....im honest!
RICHARD: u go away asshole
RICHARD: what have u ever done??.??
DAVE: Yes, I detect some ego issues' or a hint of jealousy. If I could delete this post I would.
RICHARD: she told me to go away. I have the right to stay and simply asked her what she's done- I mean in literature???
ME: I have done nothing notable. I write out if live and need, not accolades.
RICHARD: I write out of live and need not accolades, even this is incorrectly written
DAVE: “When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about the person; it merely says something but our own need to be critical."
ME:. Typos. I write out of need.
CRAIG: Keep it down people, I'm trying to watch The Walking Dead
ME: LOL Craig
RICHARD: all bs
RICHARD: try and spend 30 years writing 8 novels to live off writing and living in shit rooms, etc. trying here and there. I made $50,000 on one book- and well- not good just now. Just published a piece in NDF journal...nothing but nice....as if.
RICHARD: The Walking Dead is for total idiots - zombies --! Man. Dumbing down man can't u see that!!!
AJ: poems and novels are different beasts. They do different things. Sometimes I need the compressed language of a poem to tell me things I didn't realize I knew. Sometimes I need the expansion of a story to let me fall in love with a different life.
RICHARD: TV and espec commericals brainwash and dumb down the ppl as does the food for the kids and the allowance for terrible morals. All obese and stupid. A take over by a fascist government is eminent....based on the population weaknesses.
RICHARD: aj...unpublished novels? I mean with A REAL PUBLISHER? As standards have lowered with books...congrats to u
DAVE:: And we all walk away and ignore the guy in the classroom who thinks he's trying to teach everyone a lesson. Leaving him in his UTTER SILENCE. Goodbye.
RICHARD: WHY. Why why why why are ppl? So obsessed with zombies and vampires??? I have a theory but who cares..
RICHARD: DAVE LOL ur sooooooooo correct!
AJ: I didn't say I was published. I am talking about reading. But you're making me sad and tired and I have work to do and a (not obese or stupid) daughter to chat with.
RICHARD: OKKK ENJOY! Im not against ANYONE!
What disturbs me most about this dialogue is how easily writers can slip into a state of despair when our work is not validated. As crazy as Richard’s argument is, and he does all the wrong things by shouting at and insulting his audience, not backing up his( unclear) thesis, and drifting way off topic, he has a valid point about having spent his entire adult life committed to writing, with nothing but 50,000 and a few journal publications. I feel bad about telling him to go away; I had resorted to playground antics.
My friend AJ cyber stalked him afterwards and sent me some links. Richard has some street credit the writing realm, and turns out to be a good writer. Perhaps he was having a bad night.
Writing is a bad influence on a happy life. It requires monuments of time, gives back little to nothing, and betrays you by forgetting to lock the door at night. A career in writing is not for the faint hearted.
I empathize with Richard’s commitment of time and having little or nothing to show for it. I too have devoted nearly 30 years to this wobbly venture. Most of my publications have been for copies, or small stipends. (When I got $25.00 for a poem I felt I had won the lottery!) . Yet some ineffable force propels me to keep tapping at the keyboard, producing reams of bird -cage-liner-worthy fiction and poetry. Occasionally a gem shines through, and someone who doesn't know and love me feels fit to publish it in their anthology or journal.
Why do we write? Humans need to share stories. We need poems and tales to reinforce what it means to be human. AJ said it well when she stated:
Sometimes I need the compressed language of a poem to tell me things I didn't realize I knew. Sometimes I need the expansion of a story to let me fall in love with a different life.
Writers, if you're looking for glory, money and accolades, play the lottery. Your odds of success are better.