I’ve spent a lot of this year purposely retreating from my typical ways of writing, to try and reinvent my practise. As such I made a conscious decision not to submit to literary journals or competitions this year. While previously I have had some moderate success, I found I was basing too much of my perception of my writing on how it was received.
When you first start writing, there’s no feedback. You need external validation to progress and grow your work. Submissions to literary journals are a good way to polish and improve your craft. When I sent poems out, I would give them a final edit to try and improve them further. Make them the best they can be. Occasionally, I would get feedback which would further help improve my work.
The problem was, I invested my self worth in getting accepted. Last year, I submitted to 17 places and was rejected from all of them. Rejections happen, and the best advice I’ve heard is just to be resilient, to keep going and trying. But for whatever reason, I found I couldn’t do that and took each polite email personally.
I think it’s the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for art. Slowly, I had changed my reasons for making poems to an extrinsic motivation of journal acceptances, rather than creating art for arts sake. This is why this time off has been valuable, because it’s allowed me to refocus on the intrinsic reasons for writing a poem and reassess what I think a good poem is. I’ve gone back to playing more with my writing, slowing down and evaluating each rough first draft for what it is, rather than where I can submit it to.
Halfway through the year and I’m still not ready to go back. I’m still trying to recalibrate my internal appreciation of what I want to write. I’m enjoying throwing poems onto this blog and Instagram and forgetting about them. I might throw out a pamphlet towards the end of the year, I might not. All I know is this space has cleared the way for multiple projects I would like to create. It has been a good reminder that art can just be made for yourself and doesn’t have to be published in any way at all.