As a young journalist, one of the perks of my job I truly enjoyed was seeing my byline above the stories I had written, and my name beneath the photos I shot of everything from car wrecks to disgraced public officials. That joy lingers today, but in a slightly different form: When I see my poetry appear in literary journals and other venues, there remains that sort of pride that goes with seeing one’s name in a place seen by many. I guess it continues to appeal to my ego, among other things, but no matter what the psychological explanation, seeing my name in print continues to be a thrill even after all these years.
Of course, publication credit has fallen from its former #1 spot on my list of writing needs over the years — as family and home have superseded the other areas of my life, seeing my byline is less joyful than receiving a healthy check for my work, for instance. Likewise, I’d much rather have a dinner on the town or a free “date night” with my spouse than be able to boast my literary accomplishments to others who most likely don’t care in the first place. I suppose this is what adulthood does to us, in some respects: It steals away our adolescent and young-adult pleasures and replaces them with the docile and common expectations of a relatively humdrum society and culture.
Nonetheless, a certain part of us, a less mature part perhaps, knows that recognition is indeed still on our Maslow’s hierarchy, albeit in a somewhat different place. Indeed, the receipt of credit for something well-written continues to be a source of inspiration, motivation, and aspiration for every writer, no matter how young or how old.