“You must have been sad when you wrote that.”
The problem with writing poetry is other people who write poetry. I’m a snob, apparently, but hear me out. If you write poetry and care about poetry, you’ll run into other people who also write poetry. If you’re lucky, some of these people will be your biggest inspiration and motivation to continue to write. The rest will make you want to pluck your own eyes out.
I know that seems like a drastic dichotomy and I hope I’m not causing someone out there to want to remove their own eyeballs. I can’t guarantee it because poetry is art. People are allowed their opinions of art. Someone out there would read my stuff and say, “But that doesn’t even rhyme!” while someone else might really enjoy it. The nice thing is I don’t have to care if they like it or not. My responsibility ends with the writing. Have I done enough to make the person reading it feel something of what I’m attempting to make them feel? Can they see the picture I painted? That’s what I care about.
So when someone reads one of my poems and their reaction is, “Wow, you must have been really sad when you wrote this,” I have two thoughts. Either they think it’s sad, in which case, woo hoo!, I’ve sparked a feeling in them, or they’re worried I’m depressed because I’m writing really crappy poetry. It could go either way. In my experience, however, the crappy poetry writers don’t get depressed over their crappy poetry. It’s kind of how I imagine insanity works; You’re the last to know.
Which begs the question, how does one know one doesn’t write crappy poetry? Honest friends. Develop them. Trust them. Ignore them sometimes. And safeguard their vision by working hard before subjecting them to your poetry. Everyone will be happier for it.