They tell us that the world doesn’t owe us anything, that people don’t owe us anything. In their view, the world is a place full of ice that must withstand the tests of time. I would argue that they have overlooked our humanity’s very essence, the need to be valued. Imagine if you had a child and they made you lots of paintings, and when they tried to show you, you ignored them. However, when your neighbour’s child shows you an illustration, you tell them how brilliant it is. How would you imagine that feels? Are you expecting your child to be self-assured that you love their drawing because you’re their mother?
When I first knew I wanted to be a writer, I had a copious amount of hope inside my once tiny body. I had visions of seeing my books on shelves and my name up in lights. I would be known for doing something brilliant, and when I would eventually die, I would be remembered. Through the course of my childhood, I have been sorely overlooked. Despite writing being a core essence of my being, I was placed in the bottom set for English in primary school.
It wasn’t until I had come across some advanced vocabulary in my reading that I finally got some credit. I used those advanced words in my school work, and it paid off as I became known as the writer of my class. I was delighted with my newfound fame. A door opened wide for me as I was given new opportunities due to these words, but there was a feeling of frustration. I had been slaving away at my writing for years, and it took a few meaningless words to be visible.
I thought that this would be the start of my success, but I was sadly wrong. I continued to be overlooked in high school, and I also found that school killed my joy. I stopped writing for the entire five years I had to spend there. I got back to writing in 2014, and I saw myself finding a passion for poetry. By the time I was twenty, I had self-published two chapbooks and had just started submitting my work to online journals.
Now, all of this sounds very grand on paper, but it isn’t. Throughout my time submitting to journals, I have quit writing for long periods. The constant setbacks of the outdated system of this industry continue to kill the love I once had for writing. My primary source of marketing is social media, and my preference has always been Twitter. I haven’t been valued as much as I believe a human should be in the last two years.
On the internet, there is a bombardment of the achievements of others. You’re supposed to be happy for them, but what if you can’t be? I know that I am not paranoid. I have seen this play out right in front of me. I post my achievements on Twitter, and I may receive a few likes. A friend likened them to a physical shrug, and he is correct. Writer’s don’t want shrugs. We want engagement. I want my work to blow you away, and I want you to say, wow, that girl is a fantastic writer.
So, when I see other writer’s receiving those kinds of comments, it hurts. It’s a fatal stab to the heart, if I’m frank. Ever since expressing my frustrations for not being recognised for my work, I have been asked these two questions:
What are you doing to engage with the community?
Who are you writing for?
I have always engaged with the community, and I always comment on other writer’s stuff. I don’t believe in negative reviews either, so any review I make will be positive. One should not assume that just because I am not getting the recognition I deserve, I must be doing something wrong. You can spend your entire life doing things for other people and still have them ignore you.
As for who I am writing for, I write because I need to. This was the path I chose because it is innate, but to wish for an audience isn’t a bad thing. I don’t want to spend the rest of my career as the only one who appreciates what I do, and I refuse to let that happen. I am tired of witnessing the lauding of other writer’s and not having a slice of that pie. Those who question my plight come from the fortunate position of having experienced people telling them that their work is brilliant and of value. I do not have that privilege.
On Maslow’s pyramid of human needs, prestige and a feeling of accomplishment rank second from the top. After those needs have been met, you are well on your way to achieving your full potential as a human. My basic needs of food, water, warmth and rest have been met. So has my need for security; my need for love and belonging have been met by way of family. My romantic life is for another essay at a different time.
Therefore, I have decided to quit writing. I don’t know when or if I will write again, but if I do, it will only be when I see some recognition. The lack of value has taken a toll on my mental health, making me question my entire existence. All I have is my brain, and that is responsible for my writing. I was not blessed with good looks. If I had, then I would be in a better position. There is only one person who understands where I am coming from, and that man is dead.