On Boot Camp and Getting Results

Okay, you might be able to tell what kind of rollercoaster I’ve been on with my writing lately by the fact that I initially mistyped the title of this post as “Bot-Camp” and getting “re-sluts” – although that may have been a much more interesting post. Robots! Loose women! What a week!

However, the truth is a little less exciting and lot less salacious. After several journal rejections and disappointing news on the manuscript, Dana Guthrie Martin took it upon herself to put me through “poetry boot camp” to pull me out of my woe-is-me doldrums and to get me feeling positive about writing again. She emailed me daily admonitions to write new poems with the accountability of shipping them off to her so that I couldn’t just say I wrote them. She supported and pushed me back to a space where I was no longer discouraged, and I thank her for that. We all need some poetry friends who will do this for us – whether you call it boot camp or tough love, it is sometimes a necessary part of the process.

On a happy note, Dana’s collection of work regarding dyslexia called Diagnostic Impressions went live today. Working in the nanopress model, I served as editor for Dana on this project. It is a fascinating look at the different ways that we process the world, especially the world of text, and it is a wonderful educational tool for teachers or anyone who wants to understand dyslexia. I am very proud to be associated with this work.

Also, I spent Monday evening at my favorite monthly poetry venue in the Chicago area, Molly Malone’s. Getting there early, I was lucky enough to have a lovely meal talking poetry and life with series curator Nina Corwin, wonderful poet and Rhino editor Andrea Witzke Slot and featured reader Matt Guenette, author of Sudden Anthem and American Busboy. I had the pleasure of hearing Matt read at AWP’s Face to Meet the Faces anthology reading, and getting to meet him was a pleasure. Poems with a sense of whimsy and humor that is too often missing in poems, and an encouraging conversation about getting the work out there made the evening a success.

And…I am writing. I am looking at the manuscript with new eyes. I am waiting for lots of other news on submissions, and I am going to take my drill sergeant’s advice: move forward, always forward, and expect good things.

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12 thoughts on “On Boot Camp and Getting Results

  1. “Bot-Camp” sounds like some kind of futuristic Burning Man gathering.

    I’m sorry I put you in poetry boot camp without asking you. I guess the point is to demand that you do it, not to ask if you want to do it. You seemed like you were thriving in boot camp, so I kept it up. You’ve graduated with honors, if people actually graduate from boot camp. In truth, I’m not sure how boot camp ends.

    Selfishly, I still want to receive a poem from you every day, but I know you have other things to do. I can live with that.

  2. What a great idea to do a boot camp with a friend! I’m going to keep this in mind the next time I (or a friend) hit the doldrums. Sorry to hear about disappointing news on your ms. I was at a conference this weekend and a few editors there said you just have to be absolutely relentless about sending it out — they even had stories of people who’d been sending their ms. out for 10 years before placing it. I tell you this not to depress, but to encourage :).

  3. Pingback: friday roundup: the myth of the normal week, boot camp, and The Us | the stanza

  4. Pingback: It is so strange the way things turn | Put Words Together. Make Meaning.

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