Euphoria & Negation

My relationship to my own work is neurotic. Maybe it is for you too.

After I finished a poem, I generally feel a sense of completion, of pride, a lingering sense of accomplishment—a writerly euphoria at having translated something intangible into tangile language. A lot of times, I read poems I just wrote over and over during the first 48 hours, like I want to make sure it's still breathing.

And then the honeymoon's over. It will probably take two years for me to like a poem again. In fact, it wasn't until I put my thesis together that I actually started liking some of them again, and even now, already, that euphoria is wearing off and I think things like, "This will never go anywhere." "This is an obvious attempt to subvert irony, which every good editor will see through." "This is too cute." "This isn't cute enough." "This poem is like a rocking chair without legs." "These sections are too obvious." "My images are trite." "Nobody cares about stuff like this." Etc.


  1. Of course! I have a very complex and schizophrenic relationship with my work. What's striking is that I've been revisiting my thesis manuscript out of the corners of my eyes, because I can't bear to look it straight-on, I suppose. I worked and re-worked for at least two years after graduation, and in the meantime, this other manuscript came into being, and I could avoid the first. I finally "pulled into the station" with the second (at least that's the way I'm feeling this month), and now it's time to bite the bullet and look at the first one again, with older, fresher eyes.

    So have faith that you will always love and then hate and then love again your poems. If you didn't, the poems wouldn't be alive, changing, and as you say, breathing.

  2. Yes, I think this feeling is completely normal. We hate and love and hate and love and all the while we think we are nutso. Welcome to the club!