Everyone’s got one, most are largely unread, and people like me only post to their blogs when they’ve something new to promote or to sound off about.

The long gap between posts happens because I’ve lost confidence in myself as a poet. Well, not quite, because I’m always going to retain a core of arrogant self-belief in my own abilities – but, in general, I’ve been trying to accustom myself to the notion that my work is never going to rise above the mediocre, other than in the occasional line, and that I’ve probably little to offer that will really excite or interest people. I can’t quite accept this, of course, but increasingly it seems to be the closest I’ll ever get to an objective assessment of my own work.

Which is hard to take, as I’ve been encouraged my entire life – and that’s not really an exaggeration – to think of myself as having special ability, as being “meant” for a high level of achievement. In truth, I’ve had a decent career, and certainly no cause for complaint in practical terms. Many people would be hugely pleased to have some parts of my CV, both as academic and writer. But, in my own eyes, I’m simply not good enough and, it would seem, am never likely to be.

I’ve had two recent successes – a pamphlet, Point Me at the Stars, accepted by Indigo Dreams (due early next year) and, just yesterday, winning the Sentineal Literary Quarterly poetry competition. Both these, of course, make me feel good about my work, but neither are the mighty accolades I once thought I might be worthy of. It seems to me I can continue to carry on at this competent, careful, middle of the road poets’ level, and almost certainly will, because, like most writers, I simply can’t resist the addiction of the pen. But I’m saddened to be approaching the last few laps of the running track, with no more than a bronze medal in sight. (I chose that metaphor deliberately, as my only success on the running track, as a schoolboy, was to breast the tape as winner in the final lap of an inter-school relay – I just managed to hold off the other boys, having, in my lap squandered roughly 200 yards that’d been built up by the rest of my team.

There’s an alternative to self-pity, of course, and that is to do something about it. In this case, the appropriate action would be to take some risks. After all, what do I have to lose now? Do something different. Shrug off the comfort of the easy achievement, and strive to make something which is radically original – yet still me. In a way, that’s the whole struggle, isn’t it? Trying to discover what it is that you’re trying to discover.

 

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