IOWA CITY, IOWA — R.Q. Barnes grew up loving books. He spent the afternoons of his youth reading everything he could get his hands on, from novels to history to philosophy. His love of the written word eventually drove him to apply to and attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a master’s level creative writing program.
But after R.Q. began the program and received feedback from students and professors about his work, he decided he didn’t like hearing what others had to say.
“It’s not that I don’t like writing anymore,” says Barnes, “I still love it! I really enjoy the creative process and working with language, but I just don’t want to worry about people actually engaging with and judging my work. It’s too much pressure! I can’t stand the thought of anyone actually reading what I’ve written — it makes my legs shake!”
“I’m really only creative when no one’s watching…” Barnes continued, “My creativity has a quantum quality in that once my work is observed it doesn’t seem as creative. I call this the Artist’s Uncertainty Principle. I don’t really have anything to say, you know? I just like being a writer.
I’d rather remain unread and un-judged, but still be able to tell people I’m a writer. That’s why I’ve decided to stop writing prose and focus only on poetry. Poetry is the perfect form for someone who doesn’t want to say anything or ever be read by anyone, but still retain grounds for maintaining writerly pretensions in social situations. I’m so happy to have discovered my real self! I’m a poet!”