My husband asked me if I was coming back to bed this morning after I had gotten up ungodly early to take my daughter to work. I told him no, not because I am mad or anything like that, but because I was wide awake, for one, and because I am finally making a commitment to my writing. I told him I went to school for writing, so I want to write and it is about time I make the commitment. So, I spent the morning committing to the act of writing and it felt good.
I guess I had to lay it out for him, because I tend to be the one to put everything and everyone else before my craft. Even with an MFA in writing I have never felt good enough. I felt more the perpetual fangirl than a peer to the writers I admire. There are a couple of women in my life whose encouragement I am finally taking to heart, one who I know and another who I do not know personally, but her words are sinking in. Delia De Santis told me a long time ago that I should believe in my poems. She published three of them in the collection Sweet Lemons 2: International Writings With a Sicilian Accent, an anthology she coedited with Venera Fazio. I was definitely fangirling because my poems were printed alongside the work of so many writers I admire. She told me I deserved to be there. Admittedly, I took it with a grain of salt–like I always do. It’s a fluke, I told myself. Recently, I read Diane di Prima’s latest book of poems. I know I’ve already blogged about finding it and reading it, but what I came away from reading that book with is the way she described how unapologetically she committed herself to her poetry writing and how pretty early on she unabashedly saw herself as a peer to fellow writers of the time. These bits of truth sit as bookends to the many other signs and bits that I have collected along the way from writers like Haruki Murakami, who also just simply committed himself to the craft, and Grace Paley, who when asked at a lecture she gave at Howard Community College in 1988 why she writes the stories she does simply said that there were very few stories of women when she began writing and she felt that those were stories that needed to be told and heard.
It has been easy to believe that my stories have no merit. It is easy to believe that because they don’t pull in six figures or any figures they are somehow less important than other things I do. I can’t blame anyone for making me believe that. No one made me believe that but myself. I chose to see myself as a fan girl rather than a peer for a long time.
Now, I am choosing to commit. I am choosing to see myself as a peer. I am choosing the process and my work and as di Prima noted in her book, the rest will have to work itself out.