In an lovely coincidence, the most recent issue of Poets & Writers features a piece on how to arrange poems in a manuscript by Katrina Vandenberg that compares the process to making the perfect mix-tape, complete with Nick Hornby references and a downloadable playlist. Of course, as a poet who loves and mourns the dying art of the mixtape, I ate it up with a spoon.
Then my friend Dawn, who is always ahead of me in tech matters, introduced me to Muxtape with a dreamy muxtape of hers, which led me to poke around there more and discover a poetry muxtape featuring Elizabeth Bishop, Dylan Thomas and more. Synchronicity!
I think I’ve written here before about the writing group I belong to, which is a group of women, all with children, all writers in different genres. The group is actually an email list, and today we had a little explosion of messages flying back and forth after a period of dormancy
I value these writer friends so much, but sometimes it’s difficult not to feel inadequate around them. One of them has written a book you’ve probably heard of in the past year– it’s been on the NYT bestseller list and she’s very busy with a bunch of connected projects right now. Some others have published books, are looking for agents, or have completed dissertations, and I’ve done none of those things. It’s hard sometimes to remind myself that I’m not focused on those particular goals– they are almost surely in my future, but are not in my daily life, for now. I’m on my journey, and they have been wonderful companions– I just need to keep my eyes on the trail ahead of me, and remember how far I’ve come.
At the beginning of this year, I made a list of writing goals, a practice I highly recommend. One was to break into new markets, especially target markets, another was to commit myself to further study of poetry, and a third was to engage more with the literary community in Baltimore. Finally, I wanted to send out at least one query a month.
This week, I’m reaping the benefits of those goals set and reached! I signed up for a poetry workshop held in my city and mailed out two more poems, with several awaiting further revision. I also had a query accepted for a new market and sent in three pieces, two for a market I am a regular contributor for and one for a new market I had targeted at the beginning of the year, all the result of queries sent this year. While writing over 2000 words in a week was difficult among the chaos of daily life and work obligations, and I still have comments and revisions ahead, I’m sure, there’s nothing that can match the glow of accomplishment and pride that comes from setting goals and meeting them.
Again, I can’t say this enough: if you’re not setting yourself regular goals as a writer, there’s no better time to start!
I have a few blogs I need to add to the blogroll, and one is Susan Ito’s ReadingWritingLiving. I bring it up today especially because I’m giving her credit for this hilarious link from McSweeney’s: Thirteen Writing Prompts that will comedy gold for anyone who’s ever been in a creative writing class or workshop. Susan says she will gives prizes to anyone who takes one of the prompts and actually writes something, so consider yourself challenged!