#IWSG – The Enduring Shame of being a Poet


InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Writers can dream up all sorts of reasons to be insecure. Here’s one I’m experiencing— it seems I have become the wrong kind of writer— a poet. A published poet since 1989, but still— a poet.

I knew from early on what kind of writer I was going to be— a novelist. Not only that, a genre novelist. No self-involved university-approved literary fiction for me!  I was going to write the sort of things that could be published, and that I could be paid for.

But being a poet— not practical at all! Becoming a poet is like being the kind of person who takes out a fortune in student loans and then majors in philosophy or women’s studies. There’s no future in it. Unless you WANT to become a destitute bum.

And so about the third year of writing poetry and submitting it, I stopped the poetry focus and poured all my attention into working on novel-beginnings for novels destined never to have ends. Which wasn’t particularly practical in an economic sense, either. But being an unpublished novelist seems more practical than being a published poet.

I have continued in writing poetry, and have self-published a couple of poetry books. The first of them, a chapbook called surly petunia, I have reissued as an ebook which is free on Smashwords and 99 cents on Amazon.com (at least until someone tells Amazon.com about the lower Smashwords price.)  I’ve also submitted to two poetry ‘zines last year and had an acceptance at Chiron Review.

My goals this year call for writing a new poem every day (I write mostly short poems, both free-form and using forms such as sijo, haiku and Collum lunes), putting a new chapbook or book of poems together, and participating in the weekly ‘Poetry Pantry’ blog event at Poet’s United. I’m hoping to accept my identity as a poet, if not that as a destitute bum.

I also continue my novel work. I’m coming to accept the disorganized ‘pantser’ method that is natural to me and write scenes and scene fragments in no particular order and to no plan, rather than trying to outline everything first. And I’m also incorporating poetry into my prose. In my current work-in-progress,’The Road North’, one of the two major characters is a young poet with Down’s Syndrome, and he writes poems in the short diary he’s keeping as he and his friend travel to a place of relative safety during the zombie apocalypse.

My message today to other writers is to be open to accept the type of writer you are, instead of holding out for the writer you think you should be.

This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop, which is the first Wednesday of every month.

Please, check out my brand-new author page at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4813575.Nissa_Annakindt

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9 thoughts on “#IWSG – The Enduring Shame of being a Poet

  1. “Accept the type of writer you are, instead of holding out for the writer you think you should be.” That’s something I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

  2. We need poets! Who else would write about our sense of place and time? Who would explain our generation? Who other than a poet can so eloquently express our concerns and visions and fears and happiness? I wish I were a poet. I love the feeling of freedom I receive when I read good poetry. It’s like travelling on the wind and feeling goosebumps up and down my spine, bringing all my senses alive. Love that. Envy your ability.

  3. I agree that poetry isn’t a way to make a living for most of us. Being a novelists is only slightly better it seems. I love writing poetry even if I’m not the best at it. I’m a better reader of poetry.

  4. The only time I wrote poetry was when I was doing my Masters degree in creative writing, and I actually really loved what I wrote. I did a whole pamphlet of poems based on Greek myths, it was a lot of fun. I probably ought to try writing more.

  5. A published poet! That’s impressive and wonderful. And thank you for your message to other writers. I’m saving the quote “Accept the type of writer you are, instead of holding out for the writer you think you should be” in my inspirational folder. Thank you!

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