I have two major projects going on this year.
Project 1: Get a second collection of poetry published.
My first book publication was a lucky chance. Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, fellow Sufi and poet, was creating a POD imprint through Lulu, and offered to publish some of my work as well. He has since withdrawn from the publishing business, so I’m on my own.
Does this count as a “writing” project? If your goal as a writer is to communicate, then I would argue that getting published (and I take a wide definition of “published”) is an indispensable piece. Also, I would find it difficult to take a writer seriously as a professional if they were not making, or planning to make, active efforts to get published. (Obviously you have to write before you can publish, and if you’re head down in a novel, you may not have the time and spare energy to try and drum up a publisher. But that has to be part of the long-term plan at some point.)
However this is not the kind of project that lends itself to monthly updates. Most publishers have a 3- to 6-month response time on manuscripts. My next post should announce I’ve submitted the manuscript to one or more publishers, and I’ll write a bit about how I chose where to send it.
In April, I think I’ll write about the process of assembling the manuscript and some thoughts on assembling manuscripts in general. I also expect to post about the Oregon Poetry Association conference which is coming up in April, and to which we’re hoping to attract some Portland-area small publishers. That post will appear in May or June. So there will be a variety of stuff more or less connected with this project coming up. To help fill in the gaps, there’s…
Project 2: Be more productive.
2011 was an unproductive year for me in terms of number of poems written. This was largely because of job stress–in late 2010, I moved to a new position, with more responsibilities, and even when I wasn’t at work, large parts of my brain were devoted to work-related processing. (Have you ever had spreadsheet nightmares? Horrible.)
By the fall of 2011, I had the job stuff mostly under control. However, my productivity hasn’t rebounded, and I feel it’s largely because I’ve fallen out of the habit of constantly being ready to write. Another factor is I’ve largely stopped participating in online prompts. I used to be a regular at Sunday Scribblings, Magpie Tales, and several other prompt sites that have since gone inactive–in fact, I co-hosted one for a couple of years.
So, here’s the project: I have a new desk calendar for 2012. It’s called Wisdom of the East (Andrews McMeel Publishing). Each weekday (Saturday and Sunday are combined) you flip over a new little saying from an “Eastern” religious or spiritual leader or tradition. “Eastern” takes in an awful lot of territory–the first half of January has featured Vietnam, India, China and Persia, and historical periods from the present back to the 4th and 5th centuries BCE.
I plan to write, at least twice a week, a poem inspired by the day’s saying. Now, this might sound a bit twee (lovely word! American English doesn’t have a good equivalent): soundbite spirituality, canned sentiment. Of course, the challenge is to keep the poems from stooping to that level. Also, I don’t necessarily expect prompts to result in good poems: I expect them to help keep me in the poetic groove, which is where good poems occur. I also expect them to help me keep my ear open to inspiration (God).
As of Jan 13th, I’ve written poems for the sayings of January 5th, 6th, 9th, and 12th. For the rest of the year, I’ll try to post each month how many weeks I’ve made the goal.
By the end of the year I should have written over 100 calendar-inspired poems (of course, I’ll also be writing other poems). Out of those, I’d like to find 10 or 12 I consider publishable. For my December post, which I’ll be writing some time in November, I’ll review my progress so far and extrapolate whether it looks like I’ll make it.