Fireweed – harbinger of change

The fireweed is blossoming. In Alaska, fireweed is the measure of summer’s longevity. When the blossoms reach the top of the spire, the season is officially over. Even though the sides of the road a beautiful smudge of brilliant purple blossoms, the weather has already turned a bit. The dark comes a little earlier. I’ve been awake for sunset for the past few nights.

Usually August 1st is my cue to get serious about planning for the upcoming school year. This year, I won’t be returning to the classroom (yet, I’m teaching adjunct at the local college but not until next semester). This year, I’m deeming August 1st my deadline to start getting serious about submitting my work to journals for publication. This month, I’m going to set up a schedule for revising and submitting and make it a habit.

Without a steady work schedule, I fear that I won’t get anything done. In the great book Art & Fear, authors David Bayles and Ted Orland admit that “the hardest part of artmaking is living your life in a such a way that your work gets done, over and over – and that means, among other things, finding a host of practices that are just plain useful.” And so, I am considering what practices are useful to my own style of artmaking.

I’ve been an “evening” writer because my day job precluded writing in the mornings – I was always mentally at my day gig as soon as I got up. These days, mornings are quiet encounters of contract work, reading, and tea and toast on the front porch. As many other poets, I do best when I read a little published poetry as a warm-up and then proceed to my drafting notebook. So, for August, whenever possible, I will start the day with tea, poetry and drafting, which I hope will gracefully segue into some revision. I will use Friday mornings for submitting for publication.

I’ll let you know if this practice is “just plain useful” in helping me get the work done, over and over. I highly recommend Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking; I’m half-way through the book and almost every page has some sort of annotation enthusiastically scribbled onto it.

2 Replies to “Fireweed – harbinger of change”

  1. I remember you mentioning this book before and definitely intend to read it also.

    Sounds like a great submitting schedule, whether “just plain useful” or “just plan useful!” One thing holding me back right now is a sudden vacillation over whether something’s ‘ready.’

    I envied Rita Dove’s night-owl nature: theoretically, it’s a great time for writing, absent other distractions. However, since I simply am not a night owl, and turn into a pumpkin way before it’s time to leave the ball, I’m challenged to banish distractions at some other time…

  2. Oops, need to learn to check things closer – it’s plain that the original plan is now plain. Ha.

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