That dreadful realization that there are better writers than me
This past semester, I've lost faith in my invincibility. I was invited to attend a poetry workshop led by Dave Harrity, a remarkable poet who visited our college to read and discuss poems about faith and spirituality.
We had to go outside to collect an object of nature. I chose a clump of pine needles--some were dead and brown, others were green and still almost breathing. When I got back to the workshop table with my collection in hand, I noticed that the man sitting next to me had also collected pine needles.
After following a series of prompts, we were invited to share the poetry we'd created during the workshop. Ever too self-conscious to read an unfinished poem aloud, I chose not to read mine.
The man next to me with the pine needles did, though.
I can't quite remember the exact phrasings he used, but his pine needle poem was--absolutely--incredible. One specific phrase I do remember was "pleasant secondhand," referring to the scent of pine needles. And I sat there, feeling very inadequate, because the best I'd managed to come up with, in terms of the scent of the pine needles, was--oh, wait, that's right. I hadn't written about their scent. I hadn't even thought of that.
Somewhere, in my subconscious, I think I've always assumed that I'm going to be one of the best student poets in the room. I definitely have never thought I'm at the level of poets who are actually published and get to travel around doing readings, but as far as students go, I've always assumed I'm going to be one of the most brilliant, if not the most brilliant. As the man and several others shared their poetry, I sank back in my chair with a shudderful realization that, dang, I have a long ways to go.
It was humbling, this knowledge that I'm quite a number of steps behind the poet I thought I was. But it's motivating, too. I'm going to write good poems. And I'll give myself time for improvement.