Saturday, January 22, 2011

In Which The Author Does Not Blame Weather, Jury Duty, Or Illness

... but oy, what a month.


I keep a card with me most of the time with "my numbers" on it. These are mathematical reminders of my personal goals - weight, hours spent with my kids, etc. One of those numbers is 2; this is the number of journal submissions I want to have pending at any time. I've failed to meet that at any time in 2010. I'll attribute that to a single-minded focus on publishing my chapbook, but that's (of course) not the whole story. The big reason is that I permitted myself to be overwhelmed. I'm targeting a particular caliber of magazine, I decided a couple years ago to aim outside my own backyard (read: not to bombard editors with whom I have a relationship), and my acceptance ratio went into the abyss. And of course, about the same time, my cumulative contest fees reached the level at which I had decided to consider self-publishing. You'd think, having been at this for a decade, I'd not crumble in the face of rejection. Heck, I'm a accordion-playing poet who roots for the Mets. Still, sometimes you sit down and wonder.

But 22 days into 2011, I'm feeling like I'm over it, finally. I'm meeting the number (even challenged by the courtesy of a quick reply from one zine). I've migrated my ISO-registrable submission tracking system online and am leveraging electronic submissions exclusively at this point; but in doing so, I've learned that tracking and printing and signing and mailing were maybe 10% of the time involved in preparing a submission for me. I have learned, to my horror, that I like to tinker. I would rarely spend minutes worrying about word choice once I'd printed a poem for submission. Now that I'm just formatting for upload, I cold lose a whole afternoon reworking a single line. That's a whole different risk of being overwhelmed.

So what? So this just comes back to my single, simple resolution for the year - just to be confident, unembarrassed, and persistent in being a poet. Simple, right?

Not that I lack good projects to rally myself to: My lunchtime writer's group in my office will be elevating the energy level this year, taking on some larger projects and scheduling more time for critique and revision. I'm designing this month a program on poetry and prayer for an adult-education series a group of churches in my area present every year. And I have a box of chapbooks that ask me every time I walk past them when I'll be showing them a little daylight.

More on each as progress warrants. I'm resolved.

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