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“The beautiful things are difficult, I’m afraid.”

May 30, 2010

It’s my new unifying theory of life. In one short sentence, Michael Longley managed somehow to express a universal edict. it really does work for everything. But of course, this wouldn’t be my blog if it didn’t apply first and foremost to poetry. This is something I’ve known since I started writing, but it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve started to accept it, rather than shying away from it or finding yet another diversion from the threat of the Real World.

At the launch of Salt Publishing‘s Glasgow office yesterday, the consensus seemed to be that the next five years are going to be a tough time for anyone who wishes to make a living from the arts. More so than usual. Great. With the Scottish Arts Council being assimilated into the new Creative Scotland enterprise, there’s a risk of the former being marginalised and even more underfunded, which of course will do the artists and writers no favours. Then there’s the fact that smaller publishers like Salt are still dependent on the English and Scottish Arts Councils for their funding  (at least for now). And from what I hear, these councils tend to make things more difficult for those concerned, as councils are wont to do. All these shifts and changes might just see the British arts concerns disappearing under a tide of bureaucracy. Bad bad bad bad bad.

On a more personal note, every writer who covets publication must go through the existential torment that is submitting to publishers and magazines before they can even wade into all this paperwork. So far, having submitted to two literary magazines, I’ve had one rejection. The other hasn’t contacted me yet. But I’m just starting out. I’m expecting plenty of struggle before I’m even considered for publication. And it’s going to be hard. The average novice writer’s self-esteem can only take so much of a kicking, which is why Longley’s little aphorism is my motto of resilience. However you choose to define ‘beautiful’, any course in the pursuit of that is going to be stony. But if it wasn’t, you’d have no contrast against which to measure the beauty when you get to the end.

The beautiful things are worth the difficulty any day.

Michael Longley

Thanks, Mike.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2010 5:33 pm

    Very eloquently put.
    It’s how I feel just now at the prospect of a doctorate, as well as relationship-wise.
    At least you have a good attitude to get you through!
    Plus– can’t everyone take a bit of a smile away from looking at such a magnificent beard as Longley’s?

    • May 30, 2010 5:38 pm

      It truly is a beard of glorious beauty. Must’ve been difficult. Relationship-wise I kind of know how you feel, though it’s probably a bigger deal for you. I’m glad you liked the post!

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