In 100 words today I’m talking of a distraction from the creative process – back biting. Cultivating a fellow poet as an enemy is like finding an angry Marshmallow in the bag. You really have to do a lot of work to find one and keep it found. You’ll discover succour by convincing others how you’re held back or circumvented or pushed down or belittled or disgusted by the angry marshmallow. This gives you permission to squeeze that marshmallow with No mercy.
Who is it for you? Is it the literary generation who came before you? Maybe it’s another poet? Maybe it’s a publishing house, a writers group, a writer’s agency, a magazine, an actual trend, or a whole movement? This heat seeking behaviour has no obvious teacher or direction therefore it must be true. At first it is not directed at a person but eventually a person is found as a suitably representative target. It will always engender a reaction from its target. This will serve to compound the theory. Stick that marshmallow on a spike and turn it on the fire. Gorge. You will want more. The buzz and sense of place from spewing out this food takes nutrients from you. (Not long before you turn on your own self defined “tribe”.)
Setting up a false enemy as driving force is the gift that keeps on giving. Apologies. I meant to say it’s the gift that keeps on taking. Here’s the newspaper review “In light of the angry marshmallow this new poet shines”. And you may reply in your interviews “I saw the angry marshmallow and realized I am not what the angry marshmallow is so I wrote”. In one hundred percent of cases it is not true that a poet writes because of what they are not.
This damaging and graceless, loathsome, behaviour serves a false sense of place and a false prophet. Think of it like this: everyone is breaking new ground in his or her own back garden. Cultivate humility to the creative process as a gardener to the ground in an allotment. Get on your knees.Tend to the earth. Mix metaphor. It’s not about the marshmallow. Look at the picture.
(supplement to the ridiculous marshmellow metaphor I’ve been on both sides)