Word for the year


2012 was a very productive year for me. I generated a lot of new drafts. My chapbook was accepted at Finishing Line Press. I won two poetry prizes. I published two pieces of flash fiction. I published eighteen poems in print and online. I wrote memoir for the first time. I started a fiction critique group. I started learning kung fu. I did The Artist’s Way. I went to the beach. I completed a cycle of abecedarian sonnets.

My word for 2012 was trust. Trusting myself to take risks. Trusting myself to make mistakes. It paid off.

This year, I’m picking a writing-focused word. 2013 will be the Year of Revision. I write a lot. I’m good at drafting. But there are too many half-finished pieces lying around on my computer. So this year, I’m committing to revision over production. I’m going to focus on rewriting and finishing things. Yes, I’ll still be generating new work (if I didn’t, I’d have nothing to revise!). But the focus this year will be on honing and completing.

So revision is the focus, but here’s a rundown of what I plan for 2013.

In 2013, I will:

  1. Finally finish my one-act play
  2. Find a home for “Mitzvah”
  3. Go back to West Texas
  4. Get a mentor for my poetry collection
  5. Work my poetry manuscript every day
  6. Take my camera with me more often
  7. Learn photo editing
  8. Figure out what role dance plays in my current artistic life. Then dance.
  9. Get my poetry festival off the ground. Setbacks be damned.
  10. Learn to make tortillas from scratch
  11. Be patient. Art always takes longer than I think it will.
  12. Teach more writing workshops

May your 2013 be busy in a good way. May it be fruitful. May it be filled with wonderful people and experiences and food. Good luck.

The Artist’s Way: Week 2

I finished week two of The Artist’s Way on Saturday, amidst the fun of the Georgetown Poetry Festival. The whole week was busy, between general life, working on the poetry festival, and an emergency root canal (one of the teeth damaged in my car accident a few years ago decided to start dying). I ended the week feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much, because it was a struggle to fit the exercises in with everything else. But I did work every day.

I’m really enjoying doing the morning pages, even though it requires getting up even earlier. My head feels clearer throughout the day when I do a big brain dump first thing in the morning. They’re definitely paying off. I also feel like certain projects I’m bandying around are coming together, especially my next poetry book. I have a title and a basic structure for the next collection, and it feels as though I’ll actually meet my goal of a rough manuscript draft by the end of the year.

This week’s progress was small, but no less incremental. I look forward to seeing what week three will bring.


August Accomplishments

August was one of my slower months for writing. Well, that’s not entirely true. It was a very good month for poetry; I just didn’t do much with other projects.

  • Drafted 40 poems
  • Submitted 21 poems
  • Submitted chapbook
  • Wrote and submitted a piece of creative nonfiction
  • Began planning the First Annual Austin Feminist Poetry Festival

A couple of things in August did not go as planned:

  • While doing research for my horror novel, I realized my initial idea was just not going to work. I scrapped my plans to mull things over. And while thinking things over, I ultimately decided that I don’t really enjoy the process of trying to write novels. Stories and essays and poems are enjoyable; there’s something about writing and revising novels that, ultimately, I don’t really love. So I’ve decided to scrap long projects and focus on shorter works. As a result, I’ve decided to start the horror project over again from scratch, as a series of linked short stories. The main concept will still be there, but this will be radically different from what I had intended.
  • I did not apply for the fellowship I wanted, because I found out my friend’s wedding would conflict with the conferences. Maybe next year.

With these shakeups, here’s how the rest of the year is shaking up:

  • Poetry every day.
  • Put plans into motion for the poetry festival. (So much to do. So little time. This is intimidating. But fun.)
  • September-October: Research and sketches for horror project.
  • September/October: Apply for the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship.
  • October/November: apply for a grant from AROHO.
  • November: Draft the horror project for NaNoWriMo, even though I won’t be writing an actual novel. (This is what’s known as a “NaNo Rebel.”)
  • December: revisions on horror project.

July Accomplishments

As I mentioned yesterday, July was a pretty wild ride, at least for my writing. Here’s a rundown of what I accomplished.

  • Drafted 39 poems
  • Sent out my chapbook manuscript
  • Submitted 10 poems (and admittedly did not send out work the last week of July, but will make up for it with a double submission this week)
  • Finished a short story
  • Began making mindful writing (specifically small stones) as a part of my daily work. As you might remember, I did the River of Stones challenge in January. Well, the practice lapsed through the rest of the winter and spring. But this month, the desire to have moments of quiet observation and reflection became very strong, so I returned.
  • Finished the rough draft of Cutting Teeth. It’s just over 43,000 words, making it a novella rather than a novel. But, as I mentioned in an email to a friend, I’m okay with that. I feel at home with short poems rather than epics, with short stories over long ones, and with novellas rather than novels. I like condensed forms. I like creating works that can be absorbed and digested in the span of a rainy afternoon. Plus, the most recent issue of Poets & Writers noted that the novella is on the rise thanks to epublishing. I don’t plan to touch the draft for several more months because there are some other books I want to write as well, but I look forward to revisiting it soon.
  • Attended the Body Bliss poetry workshop at Gemini Ink. It was taught by the amazing Celeste Guzman Mendoza and combined yoga, creative movement, reading and writing. I wrote two poems that made me very happy, and realized that I have to start reading Erica Jong. (I meant to blog about this more extensively, but drafting Cutting Teeth really ate into my time and energy.)

I’ve made some slight adjustments to the writing plan I set up at the beginning of June, if only because the original arrangement would not allow me to actually draft a book during NaNoWriMo, and it doesn’t feel right to have a November go by without giving it a shot. So my intentions for the rest of the year are as follows:

  • Poetry every day
  • August: do all research, plotting, and planning for my yet-untitled historical horror novel(la)
  • Also in August: apply for the USPiM Merida Fellowship Award
  • September: write first draft of historical horror novel(la)
  • October: do all research, plotting, and planning for my yet-untitled fantasy novel(la)
  • November: write first draft of fantasy novel(la)
  • December: revisions to Cutting Teeth

May Accomplishments

Here’s what I did in May:

  • Wrote 32 poems
  • Submitted 24 poems
  • Submitted my manuscript
  • Finished and submitted three fiction pieces, one of which was accepted and published
  • Researched my NaNoWriMo 2012 project
  • Figured out the focus for my poetry collection

I did not:

  • Finish my poetry table (still)
  • Work on my epic poem

I’m noticing how fluid my goals are, not just over the course of the year, but over the course of the month. I intended to not work on fiction in May and instead focus on my epic poem, and yet in my free moments, my list of fiction-in-progress called to me.

I’m noticing a trend here. Poetry is a habit that I can commit to, but it’s hard to tell at the beginning of the month which prose projects or long poetry projects I’ll want to work on as the month progresses. There are so many factors that influence my desire to work on prose/long pieces: work, energy, business on weekends, etc.

It almost feels as though I don’t have to set poetry goals right now. The year isn’t quite halfway over yet, but I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing with poetry and having to check myself. I don’t have to stay on task with it. Writing, revision, and submission are like eating or sleeping — they’re what I do.

Meanwhile, fiction isn’t a habit per se. I’m good at working on something, but what my brain thinks I should work on and what my heart wants to work on are two entirely different things.

These accomplishment posts are starting to feel derivative to write, as well. I wrote  a lot of poems! I submitted a lot of poems! I did some stuff with prose, but not other stuff! Woo! Still, I enjoy having some way to track my progress on this blog. So I think I’m going to avoid setting the same old goals for June. I’m going to see where the month takes me, and decide how I want to summarize it on the 30th. We’ll see what happens.

April Accomplishments

At the beginning of April, I didn’t quite realize just how busy I was going to be, and how much I’d struggle to take time for my writing. But I still managed to accomplish quite a bit

Here’s what I did in April:

  • Wrote 32 poems
  • Submitted 18 poems
  • Submitted my chapbook manuscript
  • Wrote and submitted a nonfiction piece
  • Researched my NaNoWriMo 2012 project, albeit sporadically.
  • Made substantial progress on my epic poem. It’s not finished yet. There is so much revision I need to do. But I’m headed in the right direction.

I did not

  • Finish my poetry table

So while I wrote fewer poems this month than I did elsewhere this year, I’d say that, overall, April has been my most productive month to date. Especially since one of my goals (writing and submitting nonfiction) was not even on my list!

My plans for May are as follows:

  • Continue with my write/revise/submit practice for poetry
  • Finish and submit one fiction piece from my in-progress list (which I took a break from in April)
  • Continue to research my NaNoWriMo project
  • Finish my poetry table
  • Perform a substantial revision of my epic poem

I’m looking forward to this next month, and the work that emerges.


Exceeding expectations

Back in December, I set myself several writing goals for 2012. One was to submit a total of 52 poems in 2012.

Tonight, while trying to decide where I wanted to submit some writing, I took a look at my WritersDB.com home page and found that I’ve already well exceeded my plan for the year.

That’s correct! I have submitted a total of 70 poems so far in 2012! Which means theoretically, I could stop now, having accomplished my goal. But of course that’s not going to happen. Eight months without submitting anything? That wouldn’t do me any good at all. It’s just nice to know that I’ve already more than taken care of one item in my list so early in the year. Especially because I’m a little behind on the prose aspects of my list…


New year, new goals

I turned twenty-eight yesterday! Huzzah! And with that comes an update of my page of life goals. Now I have twenty-eight things I want to do before I turn twenty-nine. Except I currently only have twenty-one. But as it says on the page, I have a whole year to come up with stuff.

I thought about copying the “27 Goals” list and going through what I did and did not accomplish, but I decided against it, for a couple of reasons. First, there were a lot of things on the list I started at 27 (learning math, starting a west coast swing routine) that were too large in scope to finish before I turned 28 (with the routine, it was largely because I started so late in my year). But I don’t consider myself to have failed at goals-in-progress. In addition, there were some goals I didn’t accomplish because I made them soon after I turned 27, and as my year progressed, they became less and less important for one reason or another.

I put my monthly goals on this blog in order to have some level of accountability (and you will notice some overlap between the items on this list and the things I report on at the start of each month). But many of the 28 Goals are just for fun, and I don’t want to report on every single success or failure. So enjoy the list, check back periodically to see what gets crossed off, and enjoy my adventures!

March Accomplishments

March was a busy month! I ended up not being as productive as I would have liked, but considering how frantic I was, I’m pretty pleased with what I did pull of. Here’s what I ended up doing this month:

  • Wrote 41 poems
  • Submitted 24 poems
  • Submitted my chapbook manuscript
  • Finished the March stage of my ghostwriting project
  • Made progress on completing my unfinished short stories, as well as submitting three of them
  • Began doing research for NaNoWriMo 2012 (Yes, I know it’s months away. But my idea is going to require a lot of research, so it’s best if I start now.)

I did not:

  • Complete a first draft of a new fiction piece
  • Do enough research on the epic poem I plan to write this month. Oh well. I’ll be writing it anyway. I can always fill in the gaps during the revision process.
  • Finish my poetry table.

I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but considering how busy I was and just how many weekends were devoted to either a wedding or dance, I did pretty well for myself. April is a new month, and though I’m busy with dance stuff, it’s pretty much all local. There’s the possibility for a Dallas rehearsal at some point, but not until after the Austin competition mid-month.

So here’s what I hope to accomplish during National Poetry Month:

  • Continue my regular write/revise/submit poetry practice
  • Finish one more in-progress fiction piece and submit it
  • Continue with my NaNoWriMo 2012 research
  • Finish my poetry table
  • Take a second stab at writing my epic poem.

My literary year is definitely shaping up! Even though only a handful of the poems I write are ones I choose for further revision and submission (5-10), I’m well on my way to having a first draft of a full collection  by the end of the year. That, ultimately, is what I want. Not that I don’t want to be successful with fiction or my NaNoWriMo project, but poetry has always been my first love, and I feel like things are finally starting to move in the direction I want. Eyes on the prize!

February Accomplishments

February didn’t feel all that productive at the beginning, but I was working at a pretty good clip at the end. Here’s what I accomplished:

  • Wrote 31 poems
  • Submitted 11 poems
  • Submitted my chapbook manuscript twice
  • Finished the February stage of my ghostwriting project
  • Attended both February Wingbeats workshops
  • Went through my fiction folder and organized all the prose drafts in various stages of completeness, and made progress revising some of them.

I did not:

  • Complete a draft of a prose piece
  • Finish revisions to my epic poem. However, I at least have a good reason for that. While attempting to revise, I realized that the draft was more of a practice piece. After reading Bryce Milligan’s Alms for Oblivion, I realized what my epic poem could be, and that the draft I had written was not working toward that ultimate goal. That was more like a long prewriting session. I’ve decided to trunk the epic poem for March and return to it in April. Making progress on the new version of that piece will be my goal for National Poetry Month.

Here’s what’s on the docket for March:

  • Continue my regular write/revise/submit practice
  • Finish a first draft of a fiction piece
  • Continue to make progress on my list of fiction-in-progress
  • Do reading and brainstorming for the epic poem, so I’ll be ready with ideas when April arrives
  • Finish my poetry table project

I’m tempted to add more goals, but March is going to be a busy month for my non-writing life as well. My dance partner is getting married, and I’m a bridesmaid (plus I’m organizing his fianceé’s bachelorette party). And the weekend after that, I have a dance competition. So the first three weekends of March are booked solid. So I’ve probably planned enough.