Tag Archives: abilities

Valuing What You Do

Once again, I’m in Telluride. En route to here, Monday, I stopped in Ouray, where a writer friend of mine, who lives elsewhere in Colorado, was visiting their Hot Springs Pool, with the family. The pool is just ten miles off my route to Telluride, so we made plans to meet, there.

I’ve known this friend—let’s call him, Roger—for a handful of years. He’s been writing for roughly the same amount of time that I have, but he’s had much better success than I. Frankly, it’s due to his being more dedicated, and a bit more talented. I even knew who he was for nearly a full decade before we ever physically crossed paths. Even though we’ve since become good friends, I still look up to Roger. Still kinda put him on a pedestal.

A short while ago, Roger was part of a gallery show, in the Roaring Fork Valley. He and a Northern Colorado painter had done some collaborative work together, which was now being presented. That evening, each of their pieces were sold, some of them for close to a thousand dollars. Both things surprised Roger, especially how much they were selling for. (These all were “simple” pieces: a handful of written lines from Roger, a similar number of brush-strokes from the painter.)

I’m in the process of taking on editing work, and I’ve been quibbling with myself, lately, about how much to charge. I’ve been doing small bits of editing work, gratis, for friends and colleagues for awhile. It feels odd and a little unsettling, thinking about charging folks, now. Within the last year or so, Roger has also begun charging for the same work he used to do as a favor for people. And it sounds like he struggled much more than I currently am in allowing himself to be paid. In fact, I’m not quite sure he’s gotten comfortable with it, yet.

I’m still sorta shaking my head over this. Roger has had more than a handful of books published, and has gotten to travel to all sorts of nifty places due to his writing. It’s not at all uncommon to hear people utter his name in reverential tones. (I’m not alone in placing him on a pedestal.) All these and more, and yet he still questions the value of what he does. It didn’t/doesn’t make sense that someone of his caliber and renown would have these sorts of issues—at least not on the surface.

And so it goes. I’ve blogged about this, before. Somehow, some of us have difficulty discerning the value of what we do. You can hold thousands spell-bound with your words, have organizers clamoring to have you speak and/or present at their up-coming events, pack a bookstore when you come to sign your latest book—and, still, question the worth of what you do. Success doesn’t necessarily take away feelings of inadequacy, of not mattering. In fact, it can aggravate those same self-perceptions by making you feel even more like a fake.

And, perhaps, just maybe, I might be calling the kettle black, here. After all, I’ve had scads of folks who know about such things compliment my own writing, over and over again. In fact, Roger is one of my biggest cheerleaders. You’d think having my writing being admired by a writer whom I admire would be enough to dispel any niggling perceptions I have about my writing; however…

How about you? Do you feel you own talents are lacking—even though you’ve been told otherwise? If so, what’s up with that?

(I don’t know, either.)

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And, speaking of valuing your talents, this picture was taken during my second night, here. For the close of their author event, that evening, Between the Covers had scheduled a jam session. Only a single musician showed up with his instrument. Nonetheless, even though it was only him, here he is, jamming away.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer

Re: Leaving

For anybody’s who’s followed this blog, or who has spent much time around me, it’s no secret I’ve fallen for Telluride, and have seriously considered moving there. Within the past couple of years, I’ve gone there no fewer than seven or eight times, spending at least one night on all but one of the those visits. To be sure, the beauty of the place is one of its attractions. And because all my visits there have been directly connected to writing, it’s pretty much impossible for me to disconnect Telluride from being crucial to my writing. Even all of the locals I’ve met and have gotten to know are themselves connect to writing in some way.

Telluride's main drag. THAT sorta beauty.

Telluride’s main drag. THAT sorta beauty.

But, Salida has its beauty, as well.

But, Salida has its beauty, as well.

Meanwhile, here in Salida, even after living here for twelve years, I’m so far from where I wish my writing to be. So far even from where I expected it to have developed after just three or four years. Further, in a lotta ways, I’ve kinda stopped living here. Instead, I’m merely going through the motions. I don’t feel the connection to this town like I once did. Don’t feel a part of it, don’t feel much like one of the locals. This is all my own doing. Or, rather, my own lack of doing.  My life has become centered on the job at the hospital. I’m either there, working, or hunkered at home recovering from, resting up for, it. If I’m feeling apart from this town, it’s because I’m not taking any part in it.

I spent most of yesterday at a local coffeeshop. I knew a good number of the other customers and all of the employees by name. More than that, I knew each of them well enough to have engaged in a conversation, asking about their family, latest projects at work, the trips they’ve recently gotten back from. Also, while there, I saw the editor of the local monthly magazine, who gave me my first assignment of the year. In the previous paragraph, I said I, “Don’t feel a part of [Salida], don’t feel much like one of the locals.” Well, yesterday’s time at the coffeeshop belies that stated feeling. Chalk it up to selling short the effects of my having stayed here for twelve years. (Not that I’ve any tendencies whatsoever to discount the value of who I am, what I do.) I’ve accomplished more, here, than I typically give myself credit for.

I would love to be living in Telluride. But If I moved there, I’d lose so much of the good, here. Very likely, I wouldn’t even realized what I’d be losing until after I’d lost it.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, No [One] Is An Island

Persisting

So, last Tuesday evening, I received an email from my best friend, saying he was in town for a few days, wanted to stay at my place. Even though Wednesday and Thursday are my days off, and I had plans for writing on other things, what other choice did I have, but to say, Yes? So, Jack stayed and I had to figure how to have both him and my writing. As you’d likely figure, Jack won and my writing paid the most for it. Even so, I still was able to make my monthly meeting with another writer who mostly does plays, now. And I was also able to do last week’s blogpost, Thursday, as originally scheduled. All wasn’t lost.

This past Saturday, Peter Anderson came to town to conduct a prose poetry workshop. I’m still fuzzy with regards to what constitutes prose poetry, what separates it from, say, essays and vignettes. And while I’m not all that sure that I did much prose poetry during the workshop’s writing sessions, it was good, fruitful writing, nonetheless.

After the workshop, five of us, including Peter, went out for lunch. Peter has more than two fistfuls of published books, and teaches writing on the college level. Lynda LaRocca has been recognized as one the premier local poets since before I ever moved to Colorado, over twenty years ago. She, too, has been published several times, has won bunches of awards, and regularly conducts her own workshops. Laurie James and Barbara Ford are other longtime poets, with histories and connections that stretch far and long.

I was the odd man out, except, I was neither odd nor out. Because it was only the second time I’d seen Peter, I didn’t have the familiarity and connection with him that the other three did. (Lynda and Laurie are in a performance poetry group with Peter, and two others poets.) And I am somewhat a newcomer to poetry, and especially to the local poetry scene. But, I was never made to feel an outsider, as though I didn’t have an earned seat at the table. I held my own without having to scramble or really try. (If it’s only I who thinks I’m the outsider, who sees me as such, then …?)

Some seven years ago, Susan Tweit told me, “You’re farther along than you think.” I’m still strugglng to catch up.

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Sorting It Out

Do You Know How Good You Are?

Recently, I visited a close friend for a couple of days. One of the things we did was watch YouTube videos of winning auditions for Britain’s/America’s Got Talent. Several times, one of the judges would say afterward to the performer, “Do you know how good you are?” Typically, the response was the performer began breaking down into tears.   I think that for many of us artists, we don’t have a clean perspective of our talents and abilities. We get lost in comparing ourselves to others, especially to others whom we look up to. Further, I also think we tend to shine a gilding light on the work of those others while keeping our own works dimly lit. We don’t give ourselves a fair shake. We hold up high the works of esteemed others, gazing at them in the same way as when we’re infatuated, in love. Our own works we nitpick, magnify what flaws we find, and pooh-pooh any elements that might reveal the caliber of our abilities and talent.   “Do you know how good you are?” No. And truthfully, I’m not sure I want to. If I did know, then I might have to act on that knowledge, be accountable to it. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer