I struggle often with the idea that in order to write, I need to read. I don’t read as much as I used, nor write so much, and it’s difficult to remind myself that correlation is not causation. I had tapered off on writing long before my reading faded.
Indeed, it often feels that the more I read, the less I write, or want too. What can I say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over, and many of those thousand better then I could say it? A book often feels so final , so complete that I lose my sense of my own writing as part of the eternal conversation.
Nowhere is this more a trouble for me then with poetry. I love poetry – love to read it, love to write it, love to see the moments in life that inspire and echo it. But I can’t read it and write it at the same time. I’m fighting with this right now – trying to write while trying also to read, and even worse – reading critically. Reading other’s poems with idea of improving them. Once in a rare while it’s easy — a jewel of a line that just needs to be freed from entrapping clauses. Usually, it’s not. There is an almost sacrilegious feel to trying to take apart another’s poetry like this.
I write poetry to say certain things – to picture a moment I have seen or felt, to convey an emotion that is beyond words, to record truths that I have learned. It is a process of speaking to the self that I cannot fathom anyone else ever quite truly understanding. How can I – knowing how it is that I write – suggest anything of deep value to another?
I’m trying. Trying to learn to read poetry in an external voice – trying to learn to think as if what I said were intended for someone else to understand. It’s different. Valuable, I think, to be learning.