Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Writers' Hearts

How can it be mid-February? Valentine's Day has snuck up on me, just like it always does.

We don't do much in the way of this holiday here at the Berkey-Abbott household. I'm rather opposed to letting commercial corporations dictate when and how to declare my love, and with what socially sanctioned gifts (chocolates and jewelry and roses) and activities (going out to eat with the other masses).

If you love someone, every day should be Valentine's Day.

My dad used to bring us all carnations, which my mom preferred to roses. But I mainly remember elementary school celebrations, where we'd make mailboxes out of shoeboxes and wait to see how many Valentines we'd get. And even though I got plenty of cards, I'd look around and it would seem that everyone else got more.

I'd be a happier woman if I could avoid that nasty habit of comparing myself to others.

I've seen this in my writing life too, and the writing life of others. Some people treat writing as a zero-sum game, where your gains are my losses.

In some instances, that's the case. If I enter a contest, there's only one prize, after all.

But as I wrote yesterday, often even our losses can open doors we weren't expecting, weren't even looking to open.

The world sends us writers lots of Valentines. Perhaps we turn up our noses, much the way I did as a child, when I wanted hand-created Valentines instead of mass-produced ones: "Oh, I want to have a book with a spine. Oh, I want to have won this contest by the time I'm this old. Oh, I want to be the youngest poet in The Norton Anthology of American Lit." I don't want this Valentine, I want that one.

I worry that the universe will stop sending me any Valentines at all, if I continue to be so snooty. So now, I'm happy for all writing success that comes my way. I'm happy (most days) for all writing success that comes someone else's way--that means that if they could do it, so could I. I'm happy to live in a world where poems are still published and read, perhaps more widely now than at any time in history, depending on what we mean by the terms "published" and "read."

May the writing gods send you extravagant Valentines and may all your decorated shoeboxes be full to overflowing with evidence that you are loved and cherished.


Kathleen said...

Yes! Big lot of love to you!

Susan Rich said...

Happy V Day, Kristin!