But what about getting published by a traditional publisher or journal? How to get by the “previously published” obstacle?
First, I don’t post all my poems to my blog. I’m selective. I hold back ones that I think I may be able to place in a print or online journal. Plus, many of the poems I post are early drafts, which I’d significantly revise for publication.
More significantly, it turns out that many print journals don’t consider a poem posted to your blog to be “published”—it just depends on the editorial policy. Finally, there are plenty of other poets who share their writing online and also publish chapbooks.
So, I weighed the option of “waiting to get published” versus making my work immediately available to others, and immediacy won.
Finally, it really is dreadful to think that someone might steal your work and distribute it. But copyright laws remain in place, and my work remains solely my work. Though I haven’t done so, you can also get a Creative Commons license for sharing your creative work online.
So I considered this fear of being ripped off, determined that it is unlikely to happen, and weighed it against the sense of personal freedom that comes with sharing my work with others.
Freedom won out over fear.
The Big Pay-Off
Given all these obstacles, you might wonder why I bothered, why I finally worked through them so I might begin posting my poetry online.
The main reason is quite simple: I wanted more interaction with my readers.
And posting my poetry to my blog where readers can leave comments lets me make immediate, consistent, and ongoing connections with those who enjoy my work.
But the pay-off for the risks I’m taking by sharing my poetry online is actually greater than I imagined it would be.
What I’ve found is a whole community of online poets who share their poetry and who read and offer critiques for other poets. The discovery of an online community that extends beyond my off-line relationships with other poets has been rewarding and invigorating, challenging me to write better poetry and to write more often.
Finally, regardless of how it’s done, it’s just plain fun to share your poetry with other people—to get feedback, to hear or read how your words speak in some way to another person, how they may offer some meaning for someone else. It makes a poet feel not so alone in the otherwise solitary world of writing poetry.
As with most decisions related to my creative work, I’ve applied quite a bit of faith to this situation—faith that the very real and immediate positive rewards will continue to far outweigh the potential for any negative repercussions.
My creative work is enhanced and given meaning by sharing it with others, and the happiness I feel in my creativity is amplified when I’m able to share it with another person.
And all that creative synergy lays the foundation for opening up creative possibilities for everyone. If I share my creative work, perhaps you’ll share yours as well. And that’s a good thing.