My dilemma on posting poetry online. If you struggle with it too, tell us why.
I've always struggled with whether or not to put my poetry online. I know I'm not alone in that, so I thought I'd talk about it. My reasons may be a fairly different from yours though. I don't really know.
After some careful thought, here's my dilemma:
It stems from the fact that my poetry doesn't accurately reflect my real thoughts and feelings. When I write poetry, I often exaggerate my own feelings (sometimes a little, sometimes a LOT), and other times I write about feelings and scenarios that didn't originate in me at all. Yes, when it works, I do write true, honest, heartfelt poetry... But usually my real feelings aren't strong enough and/or interesting enough to write about them as they are. So the obvious thing to do, it seems to me, is to take either some small emotion that I don't really feel, or someone else's much stronger emotions, and delve my heart and soul into it, to the extent where it does actually affect me. THEN write it.
It may sound "fake" but it doesn't feel fake to me. Rather, it's an exercise in both sympathy and expression. And, in the cases where the concept is based on something I personally feel, it's an exercise in controlling my emotions. I decide at some point to allow them to sort of "take over" me, becoming more of a fictional scenario than anything I would naturally feel. But I still feel it; it's like reading a gripping novel. You know it's not real, but for that moment it's everything, because you allow yourself to be so absorbed in the book. So, I let the idea take over me, then I write it into a poem, and then, I let it go.
That system just happened organically over time, and I think it has now become kind of a self-perpetuating cycle. I seem to be getting less and less "emotional" in the general sense of the word. By which I mean, I don't react emotionally to things that happen to me. I don't get mad or offended. I'm very objective, and I think that's partly a result of all that practice; intentionally feeling-- and then, more importantly, letting go of-- emotion. I think that has helped me to control my emotions, so that nowadays I never have that initial emotional reaction to things, where a few years ago, I might have.
And then, the more unaffected I am by things, the less passionate emotion I have that warrants writing. Which lends itself to the same system-- using thoughts or events that happen to other people, or things that happen to me, that I don't necessarily feel strongly about unless I decide to. The point is, my writing is heading further and further in the direction of not exactly reflecting the way I personally feel.
In case that sounds negative, it's not. I LOVE the way I write. I love doing it, I love how it affects me and my relationships with people, and I love the result-- having that tangible remnant of a moment in my life that was meaningful in one way or another. I wouldn't stop writing for anything.
All of that being said... The question still remains: Do I share it, or not? I'm normally very open, with pretty much everything. Ask me anything about myself and I'll tell you the truth. It seems fitting that I should be perfectly open to share any and all of my poetry online. But I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "I should just quit doing this." Before Protagonize, I was on and off every writing site I could find. I'd post 3 poems, change my mind and delete my profile. The problem was, and is, that my poetry is an inaccurate portrayal of myself, yet it's not presented as fictional. So while I have no problem exposing all the boring details of myself and my life to anyone who will listen, I apparently do have a problem with creating images of myself that aren't real and presenting them as real.
I'm not saying it's a huge deal, or that any of you even care if what you read reflects who I am. For all practical purposes here, it doesn't matter. But it still bugs me. And let's not forget the possibility that anyone I know in "real" life could find my poetry and read it. That wouldn't bother me either, except that I know there's a good chance they'll assume it to be completely how I feel, and then *not talk to me about it later*. I would hate for someone close to me-- like say, my mother, for example-- to be unnecessarily disturbed by something I wrote, having taken it more literally than I intended, and then feel that it would be too awkward to bring it up. If they never ask me about it, I can never explain.
I don't have a conclusion... Obviously I've decided it's okay to keep spewing poetry onto Protagonize, and I'm not about to delete my profile here. But the thought still nags me every once in a while, and I figured it was worth discussing.