I am of the opinion that these days there are two types of writers: those who produce writing of incredible technical merit and those who, frankly, don’t. It’s pretty obvious which are worth reading, right? Well, not exactly…
My writing usually occurs in the following way. Firstly there will be a thought or emotion that I suddenly have a desire to capture on paper. I allow the words to flow out of their own accord, not quite stream of consciousness since they are structured in my mind first. It’s a messy process. The result is a crude but pure form of emotion in words. The best results are usually achieved by returning to it in the next few days and refining it into something more skillfully crafted. But how much refining should actually occur? You see, the more polished the final product, the further one is from the very emotion being captured in the first place.
English students and the roaming internet poetry nazis rarely like my poetry. That’s because for all its emotional dexterity, it generally lacks the technical impressiveness which they view as paramount. It’s a reasonable criticism, they do lack that technicality and my work is unlikely to ever get published and won’t reach the masses. But mine does reach individuals. I worry that people are forgetting the whole point of poetry as they become more and more wrapped up in the technical elements. If you squeeze out the emotion, the cold remainder, while perhaps a work of some beauty in itself, cannot possibly speak to people. But that unrefined piece of raw emotion, that will speak to someone who is experiencing the same thing. I won’t win awards for my work (well that’s not entirely true since The Crypt did win some internet awards due its poetry), but I do get emails from people who have been helped by something I wrote, perhaps supported just by knowing that somewhere, someone else felt the same way they do. And that makes the pain a little easier.
One of my favourite pieces of feedback was by a guy who explained he suddenly realised how he was treating his girlfriend after reading an old poem of mine, His Perfect Drug. That poem, for all its simplicity and lack of technical merit, is an open and honest piece of writing. And so it managed to reach someone, and change – maybe even save – two people’s relationship. So to all those literature nazis out there, scoffing at and deriding those pieces of angsty teenage trash, please answer this question: if you can reach just one person with something you’ve written, isn’t that what makes it all worthwhile?