Inspiration, motivation, and dedication: Following my dreams

I used to write poetry daily. It was easy. I barely had to think about it. I would sit down and put a pen to a piece of paper and just start writing. It was seamless. I’d come out of it each time like it was a trance, and this overwhelming cathartic feeling would enrapture me. I suppose that it helped that I went to a high school where my writing wasn’t just encouraged, but the number one focus of my education. I miss the way it used to come so naturally, and I am searching for a way back there.

I rode the train to school every day. There was a man who I would often see. He wore a poncho and had long hair. He seemed like he was walking through the wrong era. He fascinated me even though I had no idea who he was.

Several months after I first noticed the poncho wearing man, my uncle (who also rode the train regularly) told me that he had a friend he would like me to talk to. The friend was a teacher, a professor at Drexel University. He was also a poet. His name was Don Riggs. I asked my uncle, “does he always wear a poncho?” My uncle smiled at me.

I communicated briefly with Don Riggs after I had left for college. He looked over some of my poetry and offered some constructive criticism. He autographed a copy of Uncommon Places: Poems of the Fantastic, the anthology that he co-edited. He signed it, “from one poet to another.” Those words meant more to me than any grade on a paper, any praise from a teacher . . . those words meant that someone who was doing what I longed to do believed in my talent.

I let my dreams of becoming a writer drift away. I convinced myself that I needed to be “realistic”, whatever the hell that meant. Every so often I would take out Uncommon Places. I’d read through the poetry and mark off new favorites. I always re-read “You know if you were interested I’d tell you,” a poem by Don Riggs. The Last two lines of the poem became somewhat of a mantra for me over the years . . . “Proceed in your normative skeptical bell-curve trajectory; Me, I’ve got a date with Persephone.” Looking back, I wish I could have lived up to that mantra. But I’m trying now.

I may need to suck it up soon and get a “real job” just to help pay some bills, but I am determined, more so than I have ever been in my life, to make a career of writing . . . whether it be poetry, short stories, essays, articles, internal communications . . . I honestly don’t care . . . I will write.

The poetry is slowing starting to come back to me. I have been diligent about putting fingers to the keyboard every day. I’m opening my soul back up to the world. I thank the age of technology for helping me connect to the world. I thank my boyfriend for supporting my dreams. I thank my child for inspiring me constantly. And I thank Don Riggs and the very well-loved copy of Uncommon Places that stared at me from my bookshelf tonight. I think I needed that kick in the ass from the universe. I am on a path that I was always meant to follow. I will walk, skip, dance, and run through it, and I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. This, this is my date with Persephone!


One response to this post.

  1. […] Riggs – I wrote a post last year about how Don Riggs inspired me. The cliff notes version of that post is that Don Riggs is a professor and poet whom I met during my […]


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