The New Year

First, this post owes a big debt of gratitude to Kelli Russell Agodon. A few months ago, Kelli tweeted about “the old days” when poets blogged widely and regularly. I, too, missed that spirit of community, and in the tweets that followed from others, a movement took back its shape, and many, many poets committed to returning to blogging in 2018.

So, here I am. Here we are.

My first post in this blog was published on August 31, 2004. I was going into the last semester of my MFA program. I was thinking about poetry community and where I might find it. I was thinking about my writing, and I was thinking about LGBTQ voices in poetry. I was reading widely, voraciously, and I wanted to talk about those books. I was constantly inspired.

Through blogging, I found….everything.

Now, with six chapbooks, a full length collection, and a forthcoming second collection, my writing career is a lot different, but my writing life is the same. I still crave community, to talk with poets and share ideas and discuss books. But having rested in my efforts to challenge myself the last few years (for a variety of personal reasons both publicly known and publicly unknown), I started to fall short. Reading less. Seeking community less. Hiding in my house. Working on poems–sometimes.

There’s something about this format I don’t get on social media, and I miss that thing. I can’t wait to read people’s deep dives into the books they’ve just read and the creative questions they’re asking themselves. I hope this blog ends up inspiring people the way blogs have been such an important resource for me.

Here is my 2018 Literary To Do List. I’m trying to get back into the habit of setting good habits.

  • read 1 book per week
  • write 1 book review per month
  • write at least 1 blog post per week
  • submit to 2 publishers per month
  • attend 1 literary event per month

Maybe it’s too small. Maybe it’s too ambitious.

But here we go.

Write Now, Write Away!

When I talk to people about my job and about being a writer in the same conversation, one question commonly comes up.

“Do you have time to write?” they ask. They ask with sincerity, because they want me to be writing, and they ask with trepidation, because they’re afraid I’m not, and sometimes I think they ask with envy, because they can’t always make time to write and don’t wany anyone else to, either.

The truth is yes, I find time to write. It’s not a lot of time and it’s not frequent, but I write. I write in my blog, I write emails to my family (but, please note, I am admittedly the world’s WORST email correspondent), sometimes I write poems, and I write a lot of garbage on Facebook that I probably shouldn’t.

Also true is that I don’t know how much other people write. By that, I really mean how often.

I don’t keep a regular writing schedule because my schedule is already fairly unpredictible, despite the better efforts of my light OCD tendencies. I know that my most “creative hours” are between 5 pm and 7:30 pm, right when I’m walking Arden, making dinner, and rotting my brain with Nintendo (read: Nofriendo) games. (It’s also the time immediately followed by Top Model, Project Runway, etc.)

When people ask me when I write because they think I don’t have any time to write, I think back on graduate school.

I think back on working a live-in job, very reminiscent of being a governmental au pair in many ways, where I was paid to work 20 hours and worked upwards of 40 while going to school full time. And then the years following that job, while I was a full time student working three jobs (retail, teaching, online teaching). After graduation, I worked a minimum of two jobs, with some added freelance work mixed in, for the next two and a half years. Then, when I wasn’t working two jobs, I was working full time while going back to graduate school full time.

I was also in two long relationships during these years, one of which was a live-in relationship with a man who was gone so often I wrote enough poems to fill two full books. My family moved to the state, my brother had kids, I launched an online poetry magazine, I blogged daily or almost daily, and I wrote grants for myself. I started working out five days a week. I continued to watch as much TV as I always had, and I traveled about once every two months.

If you don’t want to write, you can find a lot of reasons not to do it. In fact, you probably shouldn’t spend your time writing what with everything going on in your lives. I probably shouldn’t. I should play with my dog more, I should cook more food, I should keep my apartment cleaner.

The silver lining is that the insanity of my life, combined with a hot online calendaring system and OCD, has turned me into an amazing time management master. I am more likely to write a poem when I sit down to do so than when I have two weeks of vacation with only “writing and reading” planned. I need the kind of chaos of this life and so I’m grateful for it. It points me toward things to write about, or, better, it encourages me to flee my own life and write about other people.

If you’d like to learn more about my time management secrets, come to my seminar.