Monday, June 25, 2007


The near rain and occasional showers of the past few days have vanished like a dream. The backyard is a quarter acre of sunlight in which Dixie lazes. Archie, doing far better now, is curled on the sofa in my office, reluctant to stir from sleep. I spent the morning shaping stray thoughts into something like a poem, and for today at least, the result pleases me. My stomach grumbles, needing sustenance. I hope to carve enough time from the march of hours to read a little, write more, and maybe watch a film. But we shall see.

Lately, with an eye toward graduate school and visions of the impending riches from my fledgling poetry career, I have in all likelihood, thrown myself into one too many projects. I suspect, sometimes, that such pluralistic obsessiveness is not uncommon. More, sometimes I think that this is just a peculiar aspect of my personality: I need, for some reason to multitask to prevent boredom while simultaneously needing a glimpse into single-mindedness to excel. Both explanations may be true, but sometimes, I wonder whether or not such constant busyness might be detrimental to those around me and how I interact with them. Or maybe, I'm simply lining up excuses for failure, as failure is, more often than not, the lot of the life's work I've chosen.


I have heard (and read) that the university I attended for my Bachelor's degree has one of the highest workloads anywhere in the country. Consequently, while there, I learned (quite by chance) the fine art of procrastination. Most of my friends, likewise, learned the advantages of deferring the inevitable and how to strive under an almost unimaginable level of pressure for something as risk-free as an academic curriculum. All of us discovered that we excel under deadlines. We thrived on caffeine-fueled nights, and a few us, myself included, mastered subtleties of explication when explaining to professors why, precisely, a term paper was late.

For me, this peculiar blend of procrastination and faith in my ability to wriggle my way out of any mess lingered on for years. As did my faith in my ability.


As a writer, there are infinite ways in which you can sabotage your own work. Tens of thousands of options allow you easy access to rationale. Don't proofread what you submit. Don’t read aloud what you submit. Don't fret about deadlines. Don't fight your tendency towards procrastination.

The list goes on longer than a 15-minute pop song.


Today, I got another rejection. I’m concerned that my last batch of submissions may not manage more than a single acceptance. This is disconcerting because we're so often unable to see the totality of what any single editor sees. Maybe the journal, for some reason, received an envelope stuffed with poems from Nicki Giovanni, Robert Haas, or Jorie Graham. And come on, who would you print?

Instead, I'm mired in my own context. These poems are important to me. For the most part, they are "finished." They are the core of my first book, a book that should begin to establish my reputation.

Sound familiar?


I've brought Dixie inside into the cool air conditioning. She's curled on a dirty blanket on the sofa in my office. Archie sleeps above her on a mound of comforter. It's funny, but those dogs don't look for ways to fail, as we do. Sometimes they do fail. They may be reprimanded, but they know, without question, even when their tails dip, that we love them. Why is it so difficult for us to offer the same courtesy to ourselves?

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