I'm not too sad to see 2010 go. It was a very frustrating year for me outside the garden, in the writing world. Maybe it wasn't frustrating, maybe it was organizing / storing up / mobilizing and I can't see it yet. But in this profession--and in the hopes of attaining a teaching job, fellowships, publishers, etc--there are no points for second place or nice thoughts, just feelings of "what might have been." Looking back teaches us how to look forward, and it is always something that motivates me to try harder (by making me angry) even though it seems like I'm not getting anywhere, or that moving 2 inches isn't really progress even though it might be.
1) My poetry collection Afterimage was 1 of 6 finalists for the St. Lawrence Book Award from Black Lawrence Press. There were also 6 fiction finalists, for a total of 12 finalists.
2) Also 1 of 4 finalists for the C&R Press DeNovo poetry book award. Both of the above presses publish outstanding work.
3) Several literary agents gave me complimentary long notes on my garden / family memoir, Morning Glory. For example:
"You are clearly a talented writer, there's much to be admired in these pages. I found this lyrical, moving and rich in both setting and detail. That said, after much deliberation I just can't see a way to market this successfully to a general trade publisher, nor can I see a way to revise it that won't compromise some of the elements I liked here. My instincts tell me this is something that's a better fit for a smaller/ independent publisher, and I'm afraid those circles are just lesser known to me. I'm sorry to disappoint you, and to pass on work by a writer who is clearly talented."
4) I was offered a full scholarship to attend the Ropewalk Writers Retreat in Indiana, but instead decided to stay home and completely redraft my memoir for the entire month of June. It is a much better book as a result.
5) I was offered a partial grant to attend the Vermont Studio Center for 2-4 weeks of writing time and space in 2011, but simply can't afford it (which may be ok).
6) The only works I had published this year were an article, Monarch Butterflies: The Last Migration, in a regional newspaper, Prairie Fire, and an essay on plant rights / invasive species / origin of flowers in ISLE entitled The Lion's Tooth.
6.5) I was the #6 top guest ranter on Garden Rant for my post on flag poles in the landscape, as in, do away with them.
7) On 12/31/09 I did have my second poetry chapbook, Without Such Absence, accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press, and it came out last month.
8) 2011 will see my garden featured on the Wachiska Audubon Society's Backyard Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour on Father's Day. No doubt I'll be busy this spring outside, excitedly so.
2011 -- Well, this post may be more for me now, record keeping so to speak. I have a pipe dream about writing a short / light 100 page garden book in the next week (or month, we'll see, I do have a new class to prep for by 1/10), then turning my attention back fully to the Oklahoma immigration memoir, eventually visiting Oklahoma again this summer. I've got a growing list of publishers to send Morning Glory to, but truth be told, 2011 needs to be about writing and not wasting time and money on $25 book contests and journals whose slush piles overwhelm even me. In the fall I'll apply for teaching jobs as my wife will be done with her PhD in 2012, and that will be a full time job in itself.
At least there is the garden, which in 2010 matured much more than me, and so gives me hope. It is an amazing space that fuels my writing, and vice versa. It is always a lesson in and of itself, and a constant reminder that chaos is ordered and is not chaos at all--or, that even order needs a little chaos so life is lived more fully.
Happy New Year everyone, even though in my book every day is the beginning of a new year. Oh, it's just so arbitrary, all these numbers, lists, reflections, ritual blog posts on 12/31.