Monday, April 26, 2010

All Promotion, No Writing

One of the recurring themes at this year's AWP was about self-promotion. I just hate doing that and I've avoided it for a long time. It makes me feel so uncomfortable. But a lot of pretty persuasive arguments were made there. Small publishers simply can't do this any more, and it really is up to us to do it. It's part of what makes us "good writers" for our hard-working, under-funded publishers. So I'm determined to do a better job.

But...I do lament the time it takes. I am really struggling right now to find the time to write. When I got this job in September I was so thrilled that I was now getting paid to write, and I vowed to write 8 hours a day, no matter what. I had the great motivation of my "job" to do it! That worked for the first two weeks. Now I'm averaging about an hour every other week. It's so pathetic. And I can really see it in my work. I've had two editors ask me for work this past month and I feel like I'm picking through the bottom of the vegetable bin for them. Somehow I need to find the time--make the time--to do this. I keep telling myself "I'll write this summer" but I'm teaching this summer too, so I know the temptation to teach instead of write will still be there. Or the temptation to work on my web page, or work on a submission. I suspect part of this is also just me being anxiuos about my writing, and avoiding it. Time to dive back in. Time to stop blogging and write a poem!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Un-Dog Poem

Ok, so I'm 6 hours late. But this is still my Monday post. :-)

My publisher at Salmon is putting together an anthology of dog poems called Dogs Singing and asked me for a poem. I don't have a dog, so I initially decided I'd forgo this one...but then realized that a dog anthology could have all sorts of dog poems, and the bigger the variety, the better.

This one's not quite finished, and I don't know if my publisher will like it or take it, but here goes:

The Un-Dog Poem

- for Jessie

This is not a poem about dogs.
This is also not a poem about cats,
and their terrible grace,
and the way they make any woman ungainly.

This is not a poem about
babies and their hungry mouths, mewling
through the night.

This is not a poem about
books, the fresh glue smell, and uncracked
spine of an unread novel.

If this were a poem about these things,
it would be a poem full of wishes,
and heartaches.

It would be a poem about the way

a dog looks, running along the hard-packed
sand of an Alaskan beach, April, long sun setting,
herding a flock of sandpipers and gulls—

symbolizing the old things
we all want—
joy, grace, spirit.

If this poem were about that dog,
it would be a poem of such longing,
and such regret.

And who has the time, anyway,
for such indulgences?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Posts

I just got back from the AWP conference in Denver and I'm newly inspired! My new resolution is to post a new poem or comment on this blog every Monday. I'm trying to balance actual writing time with writing about writing; once a week posts feels like a reasonable goal.

So I'll share here conference highlights. AWP is the largest creative writing conference held annually; 8,000 people came this year. My favorite moments:

- My publisher asked me if I had a manuscript because she wants to publish my 2nd book (that really holds the 1-10 spots as favorite moments!!).

- Hanging out at the Salmon Poetry table with the other Salmon poets who attended. I made new friends with Tyler Farrell and Susan Miller DuMar and reconnected with old Salmon buddies Simmons Buntin, Eamon Wall, and Kevin Higgins.

- Watching Terry Tempest Williams read a beautiful, heartbreaking essay.

- Watching Gary Snyder read.

- Attending a panel on "Mamas and poetry" and discovering I'm not alone in my obsession with writing about babies; I got so many good ideas about how to do it and encouragement not to hide it any longer!

- Meeting up with other Alaskan writers Erin Hollowell, Barbara Shepherd, and Carol Schirmer.

All in all, an amazing, productive, inspiring week for me!