The Work that Matters

Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?  That is a picture of a person I don’t know. What does he want from me?  Who should I try to be?  So many faces, all around and here I go.Review Android

Bonus points if you know the show.

Anyway, random musical theatre references aside, I heard something this week that stayed with me.  Apparently someone, somewhere said you should be ashamed to die without making your contribution to humanity.  I think it was meant to be inspiring but to be honest it scared the crap out of me. These things always do.

I’ve an old fear that there is some great plan I am supposed to be sticking to and that I am missing it by a mile.  That there is some work I am meant to do be doing.  I don’t know if I believe in this idea really but there is a bit of me somewhere that believes it to be true.  What am I doing that actually matters?

Poetry can matter, it can matter a lot.  But much of it doesn’t really.  It’s the same with theatre.  A lot of it matters but a lot of it just doesn’t.  Of course we can’t all be making the essential work all of the time, we need to have space to make all the middle of the road stuff to help us get to the other stuff, and sometimes we just need something silly, funny or entertaining, that’s needed too.  But I don’t know how much of my writing is really needed.

It’s needed to me, I do need to write,I feel better for it in an almost spiritual way, but do I need that work published?  Most of the time really no.  That’s ego.  And a lot of the work, well it’s not that exciting or necessary.  And that’s OK I think.  In some ways it takes the pressure off.  I am not submitting much at the moment, it doesn’t feel urgent enough to do so.  Admittedly a bit of me is afraid I will fall off the face of the earth if I don’t keep my name out there but at the same time I am not sure what an acceptance really gives me except when I have a poem that feels in some way necessary and if I am being  honest I might like some of the stuff I write, but not a lot of them feel essential.

Of course some of them do.  Stories from Sister did, that never felt like my poem which is probably why it did so well.  The poem I had recently in Prole felt important to me because it communicated something about my experience of grief that I couldn’t articulate.  Perhaps someone else could relate, I hope, I hope that’s what happens.  I love it when I find a poem someone has written that says something for me, it’s a relief, it makes me feel less alone.  So I am looking at my work in a new way, which is helpful because I have so much material now and I don’t know what to develop and what to leave.  Now I can ask, does this feel essential?  Does it feel like something that really needs to be said?

I don’t read many poems that feel like they need to be said.  I think Kim Moore does this work, her new book with it’s sequence on domestic violence.  I think Wendy Pratt does this work every time she writes about her beautiful daughter.   One of my favourite books is World’s Wife, it felt to me like the stories that hadn’t been told yet.  Helen Ivory and Bluebeard is another book that’s stayed with me and felt essential.  There will be many more of course, I am just thinking off the top of my head and the other issue is that of course what reads as essential to me might not to the next person who will have their own personal list of what they feel is needed in the world.  I think it’s about a kind of truth telling, truth telling in places where not much truth telling gets done.   Perhaps.  Ultimately I know nothing.

So this week, drafts, drafts, drafts.  Not enough editing.  A bit of prep work for the reading I am doing in Edinburgh next week for the Emma Press, should be fun.  Youth Theatre started up again and is looking well, most classes are full (not as grand as it sounds as I run small classes deliberately to make sure I can pay everyone attention).  I’ve been looking at my diet, trying to cut out as much crap as I can , getting there.  I think secretly I would quite like to be vegan but I can’t quite figure out how to do it without being hungry and I don’t do hungry very well plus I would miss fish and chips on holiday.  Little bit of yoga everyday, like ten minutes, trying to build up strength.  Five minutes of meditation, wow I am shit at meditation, my mind sounds like a supermarket, no wonder I am  mental.   And a lot of thinking, about who I am, about what I do for other people that’s actually of value, about what work I should be doing, about how I can just generally be a better person in the world.  I suppose, at the end of the day,  that is the real work that matters, that I can find a way to learn how to be a bit of a better person in the world than I was yesterday.


2 thoughts on “The Work that Matters

  1. Aw… I love this post Stephanie. I think that so much of what you say makes sense. Finding out which poems are essential, and which aren’t… that is very worthwhile work. And still writing, but not necessarily getting lots out there to be published… well, that’s okay too.

    And it still sounds to me as though you are super busy with lots of things, and don’t forget that what you’re doing with your family really really matters. Not only does it matter to your children and loved ones, but also to society as a whole. Because we need the next generation to be loving, generous, creative and conscientious individuals. This is what mothers do. They grow the next generation. 🙂

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