"I hear so many good ones! Why are they 'no'?"
I crane my neck to look up at my husband. My voice is faded after repeated readings of the "promising" poems I wrote in November, and he's looking at me with such confusion, I temporarily forget what he's really asking me. Why aren't certain poems making the cut? Why aren't more pieces viable?
"They aren't good enough," I answer.
Is it true? I don't know, but it feels like it is.
"I like it. What's wrong with it?"
My baby brother (cousin by blood) sends me a Facebook message after reading one of my latest failures, and I have to articulate in that moment just where everything went wrong. The ending lost its original spark, I butchered the lines, and I switched the tone—I edited my poem to death and tell him so. He still thinks it's good.
On his recommendation, I submit the piece and it currently sits in the "maybe" pile of a speculative website. It most likely won't be accepted, but it went further than I thought it would.
I'm losing my ability to review my work objectively. All the tricks at my disposal (including setting things aside), and I can no longer do it effectively. Most people can't separate their work from themselves, but many tend to believe even their early scribblings genius. I fall in with the everything-I-create-sucks crowd.
My loved ones aren't often coming from a place of objectivity, either. They think what I write is fantastic because they view it through a Jennifer-shaped lens. Sometimes, I discount their opinions mentally because of this. But, then again, I'm an enemy of my own court. Do my opinions mean less because of it?
Honestly, what they give me is a gift. They are the balance to the scales of my negativity until I can find my equilibrium and, because of them, I keep creating when my brain tells me nothing I make is worthwhile.
Who are your cheerleaders, dear readers?