S.O.S. week #2 update: the tortoise and the hare edition

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Hello Reader, welcome back to the Summer of Submissions (S.O.S.).

Anyway, after having seen the writing on the wall, and after receiving welcome support and sage advice from friends near and far, I have come ’round right. No, last week’s goal of 5 submissions did not happen. But 2 submissions did. And I learned (well, re-learned, as I often do) some stuff.

Adding to the long and growing list of items learned, re-learned, and re-re-learned we have:

1. Slow but steady wins the race
2. Do the highest priority item first; all the rest is gravy.
3. Sleep when the baby sleeps.

Okay, that last one doesn’t exactly apply anymore (and I am breaking my little rule right now to write this post, but — what can I say? — I’ve missed you!). But seriously, I did need to remind myself that a to-do list a mile long can’t be completed in one hour, or even one day. That, instead of my morning reading and writing — which is usually my highest priority — I can do submissions first a couple mornings a week. And, that if I go to bed shortly after the wee ones do, I can carve out a bit more writing time in the morning before they wake.

One other thing: I had to remind myself to give myself credit for all that I am accomplishing, instead of focusing on things I was not accomplishing. Last fall I made a list of Things Poets Do. It goes like this (in no particular order):

1. Read and study a wide variety of good writing, especially contemporary poetry
2. Keep up with the news of the po-world
3. Draft poems
4. Do research, legwork, word-work, and notebook work to nourish the drafting process
5. Revise poems
6. Connect with other poets and readers and writers and artists
7. Swap poems for critiques, and critique others’ poems
8. Read Poets&Writers
9. Attend readings
10. Give readings
11. Spread the poems
12. Read a wide variety of literary journals
13. Research places to submit work
14. Submit work
15. Attend arts events to support the local art scene and for cross-pollination purposes
16. Read essays to learn more about specific craft elements; generally, study elements of craft
17. Attend classes, workshops, retreats, etc.
18. Get enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, and recreation (good self-care)
19. Apply for mentorships and grants
20. Errands in support of writing (office supplies, post office, etc.)
21. Get editorial experience, if possible
22. Set goals and track progress toward goals

There you have my list of the many things poets do, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. I often have a hard time giving myself credit for anything other than generating new work and revising. Bzzzt! Wrong answer. Whatever you do in this world, be you a mother or father, a teacher, a doctor, an attorney, a Village President (shout out to my BFF’s little sister, who actually is the Village President of our hometown – holla!), a farmer, a social worker, a designer of delectable shoes — make sure you’re giving yourself credit for all the things you do. It all counts.

I’ll make that number four on my learn, re-learn, re-re-learn list.

Long story longer, for the rest of the Summer of Submissions, I’m going to aim for two submissions a week, and give myself credit for my ongoing efforts to get a solid, long-term submissions process in place (tracking journals, making packets, generally getting more organized and less random).

There, now, much better.

Next time you feel like you’re not getting anything done, set aside the to-do list, and make a “things I do” or even a “done” list. I promise you’ll feel better. A little perspective is everything, no?

12 thoughts on “S.O.S. week #2 update: the tortoise and the hare edition

  1. I can so relate to this submission! Of course, not in relationship to writing poetry and trying to fit all it encompasses in my life, but to the many other creative things I love to do, and feel I cannot seem to fit in. I have guilt. You are so ‘right on’ with your train of thought Molly— When you do give yourself credit for what you DID COMPLETE, and FOCUS ON THAT— even if it is just a smidgen, life feels good and accomplishment is achieved.

    Also remember, ‘The time you enjoyed wasting, is not wasted time.’ Bertrand Russell—that is, IF you ever waste any time. Sincerely, Pam

    • Mrs. B, thanks for reading and chiming in. I know in theory I’ve been an adult for a while now, but I really have to learn and re-learn this stuff, and coach myself all along. I love the Bertrand Russell quote!

  2. Absolutely going to make a “things I do” list, especially in my bizzzaro world of non-scheduled summertime… It shall be entitled “The good enough momwifefriendcreativewoman list” . Will send when finished. Thanks for the sissy shout out and the continual inspiration!

  3. I’ve always considered one morning a week of submissions a success, with a little research squeezed in here or there throughout the week. So I think your goal is respectable and ambitious.

    I love your list so much I might post it on the wall. I might also write in a #23. Be gentle with yourself, and when you fail at that, forgive yourself for it. I struggle with that one, but sometimes saying that as a little mantra helps.

    Oh, and I have a business question for you: Where do you find are the best resources for poetry news? Do you sign up for, say, Google alerts, or do you sort of weed through the news for poetry-related stuff?

    • Mary, great addition to the list. I struggle with that, too, which was probably part of all my delusional thinking about what I could reasonably complete in a given amount of time. I’ll get back to you on your business question — I’m trying to sleep when the babies sleep! 🙂 … it’s a great idea for a post, actually. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading & joining the discussion.

  4. I am going to print this list and refer to it regularly. I have a problem with focusing too much on what I didn’t do, and not enough on what I did. I also reposted the list to my own blog. Because everyone needs to share the love!

    • Hi Allyson, thanks for joining the conversation and for the link-love. Come to think of it, I should print it and hang it above my desk, too — then maybe I won’t have to re-re-re-relearn it!

  5. Pingback: What Poets Do « How can the poet be called unlucky?

  6. Pingback: S.O.S. week 3 update: going with the flow, giving credit | the stanza

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