So … What Do I Do in May?

NaPoWriMo is humming along … I can’t believe we’re on day 21 already. Because I’m also doing Robert Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Challenge, this has been a very busy and fun month. I came late to NaPoWriMo, and during the time when I was catching up, I realized that while writing Facebook posts or articles for my real job, I was thinking about things like line breaks and rhyme.

By the end of this month, I will have written 60-some poems that are all posted on blogs — this one and Brewer’s. So … what does that mean? I do like to submit for publication, and editors seem to be all over the map as far as what they consider to be “previously published” and thus, dead on arrival as far as they’re concerned. I knew this. I posted anyway. 

The thing is, posting poems scratches some of the same itches for me as publication does. Some … but not all. In fact, in terms of feedback and connection with other writers and … get this — people who like poetry but don’t write it themselves — posting has proven to be a way more effective itch scratcher than the whole submit-and-wait routine.

But … I do like having the imprimatur of someone else’s approval. I do, I do, I do. “Someone else,” as in an editor who sifts through however many submissions and selects what he or she considers to be the tippy-top, best of the best, creme de la creme, ne plus ultra (or … “This one would go well with that other one we accepted from someone else.” or … “This one’s OK and would fit the funny little space we have on page 5.”). You get the picture. I am an approval hound. I love (LOVE!) blog comments, but I also love (LOVE!) acceptance letters. 

Even if I am, in terms of future publishability, throwing away 60-some poems this month, I would never say that’s a waste. It feels somewhat thrilling, in fact, to gleefully toss out something that is so precious (in terms of the labor that goes into each one, and the fact that each is a singular event that will never happen again).

Also, I have found some editors here and there who don’t consider blog posts to count as publication. In recent months, I’ve submitted some of my November Poem-a-Day efforts, always disclosing that they were posted on Brewer’s blog. Results have been mixed … but then, they always are.

Still, I’m not sure what I’m going to do once this double-challenge month comes to a close. I don’t think I can keep posting as frequently as I have been, but I don’t want to pull way back and stop posting poems altogether, because it has been immensely gratifying to connect with an audience, read other poets’ great work, and feel a lot less isolated as a poet than I did before. 

On a related note, I have a pressing need to get a chapbook published. I’m at a stage where I’m somewhat reliably getting individual poems published here and there — which is so gratifying, but it’s starting to feel a bit scatteredy. And then, on the blessed day when my contributor’s copy arrives in the mail (for most poets, including me, this is also known as “payday”), I look at the other bios, and *everyone else* has a chapbook or two, or a full collection. Or seven of them. 

I wonder … should I put most of my energy in May into pulling together a chapbook? I would still want to submit individual poems here and there, as the spirit moves me, but it might be fun to sloooooow doooooown, take the time to consider past works, and really focus on putting together something cohesive.

On a somewhat related note — because in chapbooks, it’s understood that some/many of the poems will have been previously published — I wonder what makes sense as far as how often to post poems here? I do post each Wednesday at Brewer’s blog, even during non-challenge times. Maybe once a week here, too, and then I’ll hoard any others that I write next month, and thus resume being at least a little bit coy about this whole thing?

Poets, during non-NaPoWriMo times, how often do you post poems on your blog or someone else’s? And how does that compare with the number of poems you hold back? Those of you who are playing the same game of Publication Poker that I am — as opposed to essentially self-publishing everything via your blog — what has your experience been, vis a vis the viability of poems that you’ve posted?

Many thanks to all of you … for all the comments and poems and good times this month, and also for any thoughts regarding your blogging/submitting cycle between one NaPoWriMo and the next!