Why Am I Still Here?

Usually, I do one or maybe two of these daily challenge things each year, in which you write one poem each day for a month and then post them if you want to. The rest of the year, I very sensibly hoard most of my poems and post just one per week — the idea being that if I don’t share my entire stash, I will then have an easier time placing poems in literary journals that consider blog posts to count as the dreaded “previously published.”

I was all set to do that as my most recent challenge wound down. But here’s the thing: What am I doing this for (“this” being poetry in general) if not to push myself to do good work each day, to share it with others, and — if I’m lucky — to hear from some people who have read it and want to share their response?

And here’s the other thing: It’s deeply, deeply depressing every time I have to cut myself off from all of that connection. Like, “damages the work” kind of depressing. “The work doesn’t happen” kind of depressing. Like probably a lot of your lives, mine has a lot of moving pieces. Many things are non-optional, and it is all too easy for my writing to become optional — and then cease to happen — when it’s not “for something.”

For a while, I was in a pattern of write a lot/submit a lot. But you know what? That’s not enough “for something.” I can try to fight the fact that for now, anyway, I need the immediate connection of writing and posting here each day — I can shut that down just when I’ve built some momentum and had some really great interactions — or I can just go with it for at least the next little bit.

Here’s the other thing: The blog post/previously published thing is not a universal taboo. Nearly so, but not universal. I know this because not once or twice, but at least thrice, I’ve submitted blog-posted poems — and yes, been honest about it (that’s key) — and had them accepted by literary publications where I like the other work and am proud to see mine.

There’s also the option of thinking in terms of another chapbook. (Oh, hey, here’s my first one, if you don’t already know about it.) In Chapbookland, no one cares whether the individual poems have been published before — as long as the cohesive whole has not.

So, I don’t want to say this is forever, to set the precedent that I will post here daily until WordPress falls into the ocean, but for at least the next month, I’m going to continue this way and see where it takes me — and I hope you’ll come along, too.

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2 thoughts on “Why Am I Still Here?

  1. It is a bit sad that we have to think like that and hoard. I’m probably treading a fine line here, but my strategy is to post the rough draft version on my blog, so I can get feedback and interact with people, and then polish/change/review before submitting elsewhere. Besides, I like tinkering with my poems so much that they are never quite the same each time I submit. But I do clearly state that an earlier version has been posted on my blog.
    I look forward to reading more of your poems – I’ve really enjoyed them, even if I haven’t commented much. (I’ve tweeted about my favourites, though).

  2. Kenneth Christiansen says:

    Marilyn, I am glad to see each new poem you write. It uplifts my day. You are obviously creating the raw material for some great collections. Do you have an agent?

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