January 30th ended my 30 poems in 30 days, and though I’d love to say I pushed and bled and pushed some more and now have 30 little drafts, I can only say I have 25. Various things came between me and writing poetry (and some days I just plumb forgot), but I’m glad to have a batch of 25 poem drafts saved for when I feel fortified enough to return to them.
After expending so much energy to draft and draft and draft, I’m tired. Emotionally, artistically, physically, metaphysically… Four days after completing the last draft, I got the most sick I’ve been in a while, and I’m still recovering. Ample napping and asking myself, “Does this make me feel even the teensiest bit stressed out?” (if the answer is “yes,” I do something else.) have been go-tos. Because of all of this, I’m behind on a lot of things: responding to personal e-mails, responding to all of your kind comments, editing some work, submitting some work; unfortunately, all of these tasks have gone under the “Does this make me feel…” spotlight and been given up for gentler options.
I think a hiatus is in store, so after this post and one more that’s going up tomorrow, I’m going to take a break for some indefinite length of time. I’ve been thinking a lot about Molly Spencer’s idea of neutral tasks. For me, even reading a poem–even a perfectly lovely, soul-caressing poem–sets my stress alarm off, and I have to retreat to wash the dishes. There’s something about expending that sort of artistic energy that left me depleted, so I think the kindest things I could do for myself would not be related to poetry directly (since everything in life is connected to poetry, it’s hard to imagine finding something not related!).
I’m thinking of
- fashioning a headboard out of window shutters
- listening to music
- reading a magazine
- taking a walk
- making and sending postcards to friends
- giving clothes to Good Will
Don’t those things sound wonderful?? ( I know, try to hide your enthusiasm).
May you all enjoy an abundance of whatever you need: rest, creativity, affirmations, love.
P.S.S. I applied for the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellowships in poetry. It’s incredibly competitive, and some amazing poets have come out of that program (like Traci Brimhall), but I’m going to try for it. What have I got to lose? I handled 25+ rejections in a month and a half’s time! I think I can handle the potential for one more!
P.S.S. My husband and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day on the 15th, the same day my short story, “The Last Hurrah,” comes out in the February issue of PANK. I’m looking forward to a day of romantic and writing love.