It’s been nearly a year since I retired as the Site Admin of Poets.org (the discussion forums, not the entire site) and I still can’t bring myself to regret the move. I wrestled with the decision for months before I finally concluded that all the time I spent arguing, cajoling, posting, organizing, pruning, warning, etc. was taking away from time I could use to just write. By write, I mean write poetry, fiction, articles, or whatever else zaps my fancy at any given moment. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would take me six or more months to recover from the burnout before I began writing again.
Now, from the vast distance of time, I visit Poets.org occasionally and what strikes me the most is how much time everyone spends debating poetics and critiquing. It’s exhausting. If I spent that much time arguing about my point of view on poetry, I wouldn’t have time to write poetry. Of course, that’s because I seem to require vast amounts of quiet time before I can begin to put words to computer paper, so perhaps these folks can write about talking about poetry and write poetry at the same time, but really, it just seems like a big waste of time to me.
Mostly, that is, because I learned in my three + years there that you can never convince anyone of your point of view. I could argue until I turned blue that when writing poetry, you must consider your audience, and still, many people would violently oppose this idea. Sure, it’s just my point of view but never, ever did I manage to even budge one person that I could tell over to my side of the campground. So, why bother? I could be thinking and learning and writing instead of arguing. All those months I spent trying to keep the peace and still, many people were convinced I was the ogre of the forum, existing only to enforce my dictatorship when really, it was more of an imprisonment than a dictatorship. I have never had my hands so tied before than in trying to do the right thing for as many people as possible while listening to the howling of the disaffected few.
So why is this? Is it just a fundamental part of human nature to argue? Why don’t people do, instead of just talking about doing? Why is it so difficult to get along? Perhaps it’s just too many people swimming in the same little pool. Someone wants to be top fish and so what if some minnows get shoved out of the water. Speak loudly and carry a big stick and yell as often as possible and you too can be famous. Thus, I resigned, grew legs, and climbed to the mountains. The view is awesome from up here. Quiet, too.