A Miserable Game

So it turns out that I am a pretty horrible blogger. Inconsistent would be putting it kindly. I have a few drafts that I thought I could run with, but they're so sadly unfinished, starting "Today is the first day of Winter quarter..." and here we are nearly finished with Spring. It's not that I'm entirely lazy (though I am very, very lazy--ask my husband), but that I have too many things going on. I would be a workaholic if I weren't so woefully underemployed. But in terms of the work I create for myself, I am busy busy busy. You may know that my dear friend Jen Lambert and I have recently started Spark Wheel Press. (Importantly, she's in charge of the blogging.) Every week a few more manuscripts appear in our submission manager, and this is both thrilling and overwhelming.  We're also still working on burntdistrict and slowly accumulating work for the second issue. These days, I read a lot.

What often falls to the bottom of the pile is writing and submitting my own work. Many, many writers complain about this. Editing takes up too much time! Promoting this reading series/journal/whatever takes up too much time! Teaching keeps me so busy! I say all these things too, but these excuses are mostly bullshit (for me). The truth is that I have created all of the work so that I have good reasons not to write. Writing is hard. Which is to say that no matter how hard you work, a lot of it will be crap. That's hard to accept. It's hard to spend so much time on something only to have it fail. It's miserable.

Some writers claim that you have to write (fill in your favorite number) bad poems for every good poem. I prefer not to. I don't enjoy writing bad poems, and at this point in my development as a writer, I don't think they help me to grow. I'd rather just wait for the good poems to show up, and the fact is that they eventually do.

Publishing is even more discouraging. The other day, I was telling a friend that my poem "Patriarch" was rejected by 37 journals before it finally found a home. I have another poem that's still circulating and closing in on 50. Wondering if I should retire it, I took a look at my submissions tracker on duotrope, and it's a damn massacre. One of my favorite poems was rejected 53 times before it was accepted. 53.

Is it any wonder I would rather be busy doing something else, something that can actually be accomplished? If I spend 5 hours grading papers or laying out poems for the journal, at the end of it, I have a stack of graded papers or a beautiful PDF. If I spend 5 hours writing, I will not necessarily end up with any poems, and if I spend 5 hours submitting I will almost definitely get nothing published. It's a miserable game, this writing thing. I don't recommend it.