017 A Small Gift for Your Dark Days as an Obscure Writer

This episode is personal. I offer you something that helped me during one of my most difficult times as an online writer …

It was in late September 2011. Occupy Wall Street was everywhere. And I longed to drop everything and join the movement because what I was doing at the time was killing me.

Then there came out of the dark a life preserver. A 182-year-old piece of content. A dramatic monologue about pushing forward beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

It gave me hope. It reminded me of my forgotten dreams. I think it can do the same for you if you are struggling to get attention … feeling neglected or abandoned.

Listen now.

The Show Notes

A Small Gift for Your Dark Days as an Obscure Writer

Demian Farnworth: Hi, welcome to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I’m your host, Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.

And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

I’m getting smarter, aren’t I? Yeah, yeah.

Episode 17 is called “A Small Gift During Your Dark Days of Online Obscurity.”

Let me explain why.

You are all familiar with the Greek hero Ulysses, right? He’s the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. Also plays a key role in The Iliad. “Poems” you might have been forced to read in high school.

I do air quotes around “poems” because they read more like novels. Well I have a poem about Ulysses I want to read.

It’s called “Ulysses.”

Why This Poem is Personal to Me

It’s written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Victorian writer, 1809 – 1892. Very famous in his time. When poets were famous and valued. In fact, he was official poet for Queen Victoria.

In this poem Tennyson imagines the old hero at home. Restless. Among the domestic peace as king of Ithaca. We feel Ulysses craving adventure. Something more exciting than governing a rugged people. Making laws.

He’s happy. But he yearns.

This poem is personal because I stumbled upon it during a very difficult time of my life. When I felt trapped. Anxious. Felt forgotten. Lost. Let’s be honest: I was depressed. Very depressed.

This was in late September 2011. Occupy Wall Street was everywhere. And I longed to drop everything and join the movement because what I was doing at the time was killing me.

But this poem was one of the things that kept me afloat. Gave me life. It’s aspirational. Which is important. We should have goals and dreams that drive us. And this poem reminded me of my own hopes and dreams.

Ulysses had hopes and dreams. Things he still wanted to conquer and experience. Even though he was old. His body warped from wars and fierce weather.

So I want to share it with you because I hope it encourages you in your journey as an online writer. Reminds you about your very own hopes and dreams.

Especially during the dark days of online obscurity. It can be like a war. There is fierce weather.

And besides, like I said in the last episode, there might be something you can steal from this poem. A sentence. A quote. A word. That you can use in your own work.

The Poem

Anyway, this is “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

That’s it. Until next time, dear listener, take care.