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?