It is always better to go than not. If you’re invited somewhere, if something is happening and you can get to it, get to it. The worst that can happen is that you have a bad time and a good story to tell about it.
Okay. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a bad time when you could be at your desk writing. But you still get the story, it just happens to you instead of your having to make it all up.
I’m minded of this because I went to a poetry event last night and though I did fancy it, I knew it was going to be a long day and I knew I was behind on various things. It would unquestionably have been better for me to stay at my office working instead of spending the day chatting with people and the evening watching a poetry performance.
But it was undoubtedly better for me to go because it fuelled me. I met with people I like very much – I hadn’t realised they would be there, it was a hugely unexpected delightful bonus – and I enjoyed the poetry. It was fuel. It was leaded.
It didn’t have to be. It is not the job of poetry to inspire a writer to write. I don’t think poetry has a job, it just as purpose and a role and a position and a power. Let it do what it may and trust that what it may do is alive.
But it does also fuel me. And the thought of this evening is with me still tonight. Whereas, if I’d worked on into the evening, by now I wouldn’t be able to tell you with any certainty which text I’d written then. Which text was the day before. I might be able to make a stab at it but you’re a writer, you know this: you revise and replace all of your writing all the time. If I wrote something last night, it might not survive the day. And that’s fine, that’s necessary, but choosing to step away and do something that isn’t work, that wasn’t work, that actually took work.
And it’s always worth it.