Drafting, Submitting, Keeping Up with Journals

75º ~ an unusually cool & rainy summer, lovely but darkened by the knowledge that this is climate change in action

I can’t believe it’s been a full three weeks since I’ve posted. Those three weeks were consumed with the ramp-up of a new semester. However, I did protect my writing time, although I used it for getting drafts in order, some minor revising, and sending out work. I did not protect my blog time, it seems.

Today, I can report a new draft! Wahoooooooza. This is a draft that began by walking. You may remember a post not long ago with practical advice on how to draft while walking. Today’s draft followed much of this; however, it began on Monday’s walk, which wasn’t a conscious drafting walk. Instead, I was using my walk to begin my memorization of “The Colonel” by Carolyn Forché. Each semester, I require my students to memorize and recite, and I play along. “The Colonel” has been interesting because it is a prose poem, so I don’t have line breaks to help me remember. Instead, I’m linking images, sentence by sentence to keep me going. Anyway, on Monday, I was reciting as I walked (with the printed poem in my hand), but I also wanted to be present on the walk, so once I’d added a few sentences to my memorization, I stopped working it and let myself walk and observe. In a very short time, my own lines began emerging. I scooped my phone from my pocket, opened an email draft to myself, and used the voice dictation function to capture the lines. Autocorrect produced some fickle interpretations, but it was close enough that when I returned to the email this morning during my drafting time, I had something with which to begin. This new poem is “Rhytidome.” I credit its presence with having taught ecopoetics last year at this time and with my current teaching of political poetry. I can’t say enough how thrilled I am to have this job that inspires my creative work while I’m actually doing the job I get paid to do. I know there are many people out there still searching for this combination. I’m proof that patience and persistence sometimes work.

So, I have this new draft, and as of this morning, it is the only poem in my “new drafts” folder. I spent some of the last three weeks going through all the lingering drafts, those that were in my “ready to submit” folder and those that had lingered in the “new drafts” folder for several years. The good news is that many of them had been sitting, untouched, for 6 months to 2 years. With this distance, I had a much clearer sense of which were viable and which I needed to set aside. I also found that many of the poems in the “ready to submit” folder no longer held my interest. I could see that they were poetically sound, but I no longer had the energy, the spark to keep submitting them. I moved all of the poems I was no longer interested in over to my “out of commission” folder. They still exist, and in the future, I may return there and see what’s germinated.

With that done, I shifted to all the drafts I have that hold my interest. I grouped all of the unpublished, interest-holding drafts and sat down to revise. It turns out that I had 32 poems, plus 9 hybrid poem-collage pieces in that stack. The numbers stunned me. I worked through each poem, making mostly minor revisions (even if they were out for consideration), but sometimes more major changes. In some cases, changing the title did wonders. With the poems tidied up, I started sending out to those journals that read year-round and those that were open in August. As I learned of some journals shifting their submission period opening into September, I made notes on my Google calendar and updated my spreadsheet. In fact, when I finish this post, I’ll go through and make my 9/1 list so I can work through it when I have small chunks of time to spare.

Writing Journal, Joy Harjo Book, Pampas Grass

Writing Journal, Joy Harjo Book, Pampas Grass

All of this is a vast improvement over last year when I let my priorities get out of balance, to the detriment of my writing life and my mental health! In celebration, here is a picture of how I set the stage for success this morning  with my journal, a book by Joy Harjo, and a strand of pampas grass that I picked on my walk. Then, there’s a picture of George destroying my little cairn by trying to eat the pampas grass. Ah, my muse!

George Eats Pampas Grass

George Eats Pampas Grass

 

Posted by Sandy Longhorn

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