Well, I ain't a doctor and don't claim to be, but believe obsession with the position of greatness
is a real sickness.
There's the concern for the work, to make it the best it can be -- nothing wrong with that. I don't know many poets who stop and say "good enough!" when a poem gets to a certain point -- not if they can figure out a way to improve it. It's not like cleaning, when I'll get to a point and say "clean enough!" when I know damn well there's dust bunnies behind the TV stand and Cheerios under the sofa cushions--cause if anyone starts white gloving my house, they're never getting another invitation back.
White glove my poems and I'll listen. Whatever I conclude, I'll consider it.
There will always be the taste and cannon-makers, ones who deem a poem good, but not great--or--going over an entire body of work and saying, "she wrote a few great poems, but she's not a great poet." People will do it in passing and a few will make it their life's mission to create arbitrary ranking systems--and sure, there's some uses for such systems. We use them to decide what work to include in magazine and books, what to teach and what to read and re-read ourselves.
We can do our best to present our work, ourselves, well. But we'll never going to control what people say or think.
I'm a babe, I want you to love me, but I can't make
you love me.
And why is that *the* measure anyhow? If someone asks me who are the great
poets writing today, if I'm not totally exhausted by the question, I'll throw out some names of people whose work I really admire. Usually the response I'll get is "Well, they're good, but not great
" and then there's the follow-up "Who's going to be read in 50 years?" Well, I haven't a clue who will be read in high esteem 50 years from now and anyone who claims that they do know is full of shit. It might be fun or interesting to try to predict such things, but keep in mind, it's a game, that's all, not a formula or science. It can't hurt to make some predictions, if that's your thing, but don't base your work and your life on it. It's like guessing while you're six years old who you'll grow up to marry. Unless your parents are arranging it for you, you don't know. Maybe you will grow up and marry your kindergarten sweetheart (hello Iggie, where are you?), but what are the chances?
Who did I know
I was going to grow up and marry when I was six years old? Iggie? Hell no, I was more sophisticated than that. Paul McCartney! He looked sooo cute on my aunt's album covers, I had no idea he was a thousand years old. Or already married with children my age. Where would I be right now if I was still working towards that? Alone, living in a one room apartment/Paul shrine.
But I hear he's single again, so there's still hope yet.
Thinking about my education, what so many "professionals" of the field said to me and thousands of other creative writing students regarding this idea of greatness
, I'm bothered. It's like telling the kindergartners that these are things one must have and do to make it on the Homecoming court in 12 years and that's the goal. How many flaws can you count in that? What bizarre little children we'd create. And what would they be like as adults?
I stand by my earlier assertion, I could give two craps about achieving greatness
, I'm more than satisfied with being merely fabulous.
Labels: too busy being fabulous