It’s nearly the end of August, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what happened this summer. This post is more for my own records than anything else. I’m not sure how wide the audience is for this type of post, but what’s a blog for anyway? A blog’s a web-log. Sometimes, it’s just a log of one’s efforts.
Writing and Publishing
I have been writing an amount I feel happy with. I have a lot of revision to do, but I have basically written the equivalent of a book-length manuscript of poems since the winter. I have also put together a nonfiction chapbook about walls, boundaries, and borders which is out in the world and will, I hope, find a publisher in the coming months.
In terms of publishing, I am somewhere farther ahead than I was last year in terms of submissions (Here’s the post where I logged my submissions journey last year). As of the end of August 2019, right now, I have 65 pending submissions, six acceptances, and 55 rejections.
This makes 126 total submissions with four months of the year to go. That’s farther along, I think, than my 149 total YTD submissions last December.
I have another book-length manuscript of poems, written during 2017/2018, which I am hoping will arrive on the right editor’s desk soon.
My current goals are to continue to send out all the work I can and to finish some of the essay projects I began this summer and didn’t finish. There’s obviously a lot to write about in the world right now. I need to carve out some more time to work on those essays.
I have been lucky to find a lot of paying work that is writing-related. One of my work highlights from the summer was teaching an online poetry class focused on found poetry, erasures, and epigraphs through the Loft Literary Center. (The Loft offers a variety of relatively affordable classes online year-round.) My students lived across the country and had a lot of different relationships to poetry. The students ranged from published authors who’ve won prizes to new poets who were working on their very first poem! I knew I would like teaching this class, but I really liked it. I hope to teach again through the Loft.
For several weeks, I also taught an in-person composition class through my university. Never having taught in the summer, I didn’t realize that the class would be filled with eager students, mostly fresh out of high school, who were extremely ready to learn at 8:00 am twice a week for 3+ hour class meetings. It was probably my favorite semester of teaching that type of course to-date.
I continued my online marketing and content-writing work which is my bread and butter. (Is there a better phrase than that? I’m sure there is.) I did a bit of freelance editing and helped friends get their manuscripts ready for publishers.
I also received an amazing opportunity to do some copy editing for a small book publisher—work I was extremely grateful for even just for the experience. I have done a lot of copy editing over the years for literary journals, for friends, and at pretty much every office job I’ve ever had, but editing long-form narratives is a whole different game. I love it.
I also expanded my writing coaching, which is perhaps my favorite paying work of all. (If you’re reading this and want to work one-on-one, feel free to contact me!) I have helped friends widen their writing skills, given them feedback on existing work, and even helped with the submissions process. One gratifying aspect of this work is getting to know another person’s creative work far more intimately than would be possible in a traditional class with several students.
My best friend got me a subscription to The New Yorker last year, so I’ve been enjoying (and catching up on) their long-form journalism all summer. Thinking back to recent issues, one of my favorite recent articles is “Stacey Abrams’s Fight for a Fair Vote.” I also was blown away by this piece on the 40-year history of a domestic violence shelter in Boston because it uses stories of individual survivors to tell the story of an evolving movement. The subject matter is extremely interesting, but the feminist narrative structure of the article itself is incredible.
In terms of books, I read so many that I would recommend: Sketchasy by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (an amazing feminist novel), Hanif Abdurraqib’s They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us (a re-evaluation of the imaginative possibilities of music journalism), and The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy (from Headmistress Press, my publisher) are a few that come to mind.
100 Times by Chavisa Woods chronicles 100 instances in which the author has personally encountered sexism in her life. I’m still finishing that one. As you can imagine, i’s a pretty intense book, so I’m ingesting it in small chunks as suggested in the introduction.
After Toni Morrison passed, I re-read The Bluest Eye, which I hadn’t read since high school. I’d forgotten so much about the fragmented timeline and structure. This deserves further reflection and, probably, its own post. Now is a a really good time to re-read the first Morrison book you ever picked up.
I used to keep a list of the books I read throughout the year. I’d like to start that again, I think!
What’s Coming Up for Fall
Lots of good things are coming up for me this fall. I get to teach creative writing at the university I attend. I get to take some excellent classes and start my official thesis work. I am excited for the weather to cool down a bit so that I can do more of the things that I love: hiking, biking, exploring Florida parks, and visiting the beach without worrying about heatstroke.
I also have a reading at The Book Cellar in Lake Worth, Florida on Sunday, September 8th, 2019 at 3:00 pm.
And my first 2020 event has been scheduled! It is still a big secret, but what I can tell you is that it’s a poetry reading in Miami in May.
Overall, it’s been a pretty good summer. I had some high high’s and low low’s. I had some minor health issues and struggled with the general isolation of living in Miami during the summer, but I also got to travel a ton. A cross-country road trip with my dad, camping in the Florida Keys for the first time (with tame campground iguanas who would eat out of your hand—if you dared!), a queer poetry conference in DC, and an Amtrak ride to Charleston were some of my favorite parts of the summer. I feel really, really lucky that I got to travel so much, and especially lucky that I have work that occurs online and that I can take anywhere with me.