(Weirdly, after writing the first draft of this, I found I’d written a very similar post around this time last year – perhaps its part of my annual cycle - though it does make me think that I haven't learned anything.)
For most of this year a lot of my non-day-job work has been publishing stuff – I’ve been wearing my publisher hat with JAAM magazine, and as Seraph Press I’ve published a record two books this year – Watching for Smoke by Helen Heath, and Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: A Mythistorima, by Vana Manasiadis. (I’ve previously averaged about one book every year-and-a-half.) And it isn’t that my publishing responsibilities are over – there’s still my attempts at publicity and distribution for those aforementioned publications, and the next issue of JAAM to prepare for, but ever since I signed off the print proofs for Ithaca I started feeling like it was time to take a look at my own writing again, and, even, that I had a little bit of spare time in which I could do that. Since then I’ve written a few things – mostly poems and mostly fairly mediocre, but that’s ok. I think what what to do now is take stock of where I’m at, and what I have.
One of my goals for this year was to have finished a draft of Cinema – my movie-inspired poems that I hope will become my next collection. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done that – I think I probably have enough-ish poems, but not enough poems that are good enough, and that work together to do what I want them to do. What I want them to do is work individually and together to create something of meaning.
When I started on this project I was kind of steering clear of the personal in my poetry. I’ve been reluctant to write too much about myself, because it feels self-indulgent. I guess that probably comes from having written so many dreadful teen-angst poems about how I felt (usually misunderstood, disappointed, unappreciated and frequently infatuated). But lately, considering what I really love in other people’s poetry (and even some of my own) is when they manage to turn personal stories or details into something bigger than themselves. I’ve appreciated that in both the books I’ve just published. The personal can give you, the reader, something to connect to (though it can also alienate you, of course, if it doesn’t work for you). I think that connection is maybe what I want a bit more of in Cinema.
Something I didn’t expect to do this year was write a long poem sequence about a (literal and kind of psychological) journey. But I did. In one day. One of my next tasks is to revise that and then kick it out for a reader or two to have a read of it, and then see what is to be done with it.
Another thing I need to do is send out some more submissions to literary journals – it’s been a while.
And I think it’s time to restart my ‘weekly’ writing reports to Clare (my last one was in August – I think they were mostly sort of bi-monthly before that). I find they help me keep track of what I’m up to and keep me motivated.
So, yeah, I’m back on the wagon.