True Success

I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot in terms of my writing. If I never publish a book of poems, will I look upon myself as a successful writer? Hard to say. Many writers are satisfied without entering into the publishing fray. I don't know if that's my story. All I can do is keep moving forward, and keep attempting projects that help me grow as a poet and a person.

In the meantime, here’s my poetry to-do list for the next few weeks.

This week
  • Mail out eight postcard poems. OK, I admit it. I’m backlogged. So if I promised you a postcard, don’t worry. It’s coming soon.
  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Write a book review
  • Choose dates for NEWS reading events for the fall

Next week

  • Send out to two publishers. This is one item that appears on my list but I rarely do. I think I’m afraid of being successful.
  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Send manuscript to yet another publisher
    Write an article for a poetry journal for an upcoming project. More on that later.

Two weeks later

  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Mail more postcard poems?
  • Start revising 2007 poems. My least-favorite task on the whole list. Some people like revision--I'm not one of them.


I used to love revision - now not so much. I think what has changed is that I don't just blast off with my pen anymore. I am thoughtful; I let things simmer; I wait. So then when I go to revise I feel like I am destroying my creation. I agree: not a thing I love so much anymore. it's the sitting and writing fresh I completely adore now.

As for publishing - you will get there. Your work is very good, very well-crafted, and strong (and that's only what I've seen on your blog!). landmammal has a nice post on titles and revision. Kate greenstreet @ kickingwind does that series of interviews of poets who've got a first book - all things helpful to the task of first book publishing. I personally have decided to let go of mine. I am onto new poems now. What a great feeling, too!
Bug said…
Very ambitious list! I, too, don't feel I'd be successful without a book. I wish I felt differently, but alas.... That's great you got a letter from Phil! That must've been really neat.
January said…
Bug, my lists are not in the same league with yours. I mean, your lists are heavy duty!

Phil's letter was just the encouragement I needed to keep going. He's just an awesome teacher.
January said…
PWADJ, YES--revision does seem like I'm destroying my creation. But I should develop an appreciation for it because it's an important part of the creative process ... Yadda Yadda Yadda.

Thanks for the kind words about my work. I like your attitude about letting go of the old poems, making a space for the new. I'm not quite ready for that yet but I'll get there, eventually.

And thanks for the info on process and publishing. Very cool.
wendy said…
You are so beyond me, that you even have a list!! My "REAL PEOPLE" poetry class starts tomorrow... Already my mind is telling my body that perhaps I feel a bit sick...cough..cough..

The thought of a book is way beyond me. Just sitting in the same room with other wanna be going to take all my strength, I'm afraid!!
bostonerin said…
I'm a huge fan of revision. My first drafts are so awful--stilted, stereotypical, flat--that I regularly despair over them and contemplate going in to dentistry just to do something totally different.

As for success...I always felt that publishing=success. First, short stories. Then essays. Now a book. However, with each step the stakes raise and the fall is from a greater height. There's more fear. More second-guessing. I'm 'revising' my definition of success to focus more on the actual writing I'm doing as opposed to who is presenting it to the world. The publishing stuff can be validating, but unless your head is in the right place when you get there, it can be damaging, too.

Popular Posts