The Magical Moment in Which You Realize that You Are, or Will Be a Writer
Anne Sexton said she realized that she was a poet (I suppose she meant that she had the capacity to be a poet) while watching John Berryman read on TV.
It really a magical moment, the sort of moment in fairy tales when Snow White or Sleeping Beauty discover that they really are princesses.
My own moment came in two installments. In my early twenties I started writing poetry in a rush. And it was like,”Okay, I love this, I can do it. Not as well as Keats, okay, but well enough to give me, and perhaps some others, pleasure.”
My next moment happened several years later. I was reading a description of a family united around the consumption of gargantuan meals in Patricia Hampl’s “A Romantic Education,” and thought “Yes, that’s like my family. I can do this too.” Around that time, I read Annie Dillard’s “An American Childhood” about a bookish and privileged childhood in a steel town much like Jamshedpur, India, where I grew up, each chapter about a different passion or obsession, and I thought, “Yes, I can do this. And this is how.”
Life intervened in the form of two children, health issues, the need to work to pay for the girls’ private school education, but now I am back to writing happily, hoping to complete my memoir, and my slender volume of poetry.