When was the last time you were at inbox zero? It has been a while for me. I have over 17k emails. Every once in a while I scroll through deleting a few hundred, but it seems a never ending task.
I finally worked my way to emails from the first of November and noticed one from the Poetry Society of Indiana, notifying me that I placed in their annual nationwide poetry contest.
I forgot about entering the contest. My mind is like a fast moving train. I write and move on. Often when I read what I wrote months or years later, it’s like reading someone else’s writing. That’s how I know I am a vessel for my muse.
I love when my muse shows up for a writing sesh. It’s like talking with your best friend for hours that seems like seconds or a first date with your soulmate. Rare air. Cloud surfing. Glimpses of eternal happiness in momentary bliss.
When I opened the Winner’s List, my name was at the top for the Grand Prize award of $100. I’m pretty sure that is the most I have earned (so far) from writing!
I have entered several poetry contests over the past 30 years. It’s not for an ego boost and it’s not about the prize, it is for validation that my writing matters to someone other than me.
Often when I write, a negative and distracting voice, that developed around the same time as my boobs, pipes up to shut me down, with a series of lines like grooves in a worn out record:
“Nobody wants to read what you write.”
“There are so many better writers and poets than you.”
“Why do you even bother?”
“Writing is a waste of time!”
“Poetry is dead.”
“You will never make it as a writer.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Wouldn’t you rather read?”
“What’s trending on YouTube?”
“Get a real job!”
On and on my inner bully taunts before and as I write. Steven Pressfield calls this “Resistance with a capital R.”
Well guess what happens when I place in a poetry contest? It’s like sticking my tongue out at that big bully and saying nah, nah, nah, nah. I won! The bully goes and sulks in the corner for a while.
Listen, oh listen… silence.
Do you know how precious silence is to the creative mind? To me, more precious than gold.
With the bully temporarily absent from the playground of my mind, the muse comes out to play, sometimes for the rest of the day!
Over the years I have learned that winning a writing contest isn’t necessary to silence my inner bully. All that’s needed is to write, submit, and publish. The more consistently I pursue my passion, the quieter the bully becomes. It is now a mere whisper. But,
I must take care to not ignore writing very long, else the bully once again grows strong.