Poetry versus Fiction

Whew. That was a long week.

Yesterday I researched several literary magazines for submitting my work. If you aren’t already familiar with www.duotrope.com, you should definitely check them out as a source to help you discover markets for your work. They have been immensely helpful with my journey to navigate the Internet and find magazines. Plus it’s fun to see what other people are publishing and discover new work to read.

Besides submitting, I didn’t get much done but I can say that I did continue to write every day, which has been one of my goals this year. Every year I choose a word to dominate my goals for the year. Like 2008 was passion, 2009 was improving, 2010 was writing, and 2011 is writing and publication. No harm in having two words this year.

Under each word is a smaller list of how to achieve these goals. For 2010, I chose to write at least 200 poems, explore different poetic forms, and write four short stories, to name a few. Last year I wrote 254 poems from January to December. And I met several of my goals, including the ones I named above.

Since writing is still my word of the year, I kept the goals that fit last year for this year and adjusted as necessary. So far I have written 619 poems. I mostly write short ones, so that explains the numbers. But also, I think about 85 to 90 of those poems are worth revising for potential publication. The rest are experiments for future poems (or stories—more on this later) or a way to release and understand my emotions or explore images.

It’s funny that I don’t consider myself either a poet or a fiction writer. I write both, so I am both. They influence each other. If a short story of mine is struggling to develop or I run into a snag, I’ll turn to poetry to see the story in a new light. As if it were magic, the story picks up. I work through the snags with this method to find if something in a story feels off or a revision is suggested but I’m not sure how to address it.

Point being, find a system that works for you. If I struggle with a story, I’ll turn to a poem. If I struggle with a poem, I’ll turn to fiction. This is my method for my current writing life, and if in the future it becomes necessary to change this part of my process, so be it.

I still fight with myself that I have to be a poet or a fiction writer, so I made a long-term goal. If I don’t have a novel published in the next eight years, I won’t attempt to write another word of fiction, even if it will help my poetry. I’ll devote the rest of my life to poetry.

I have a lot of novel ideas floating around my head and it would be a shame to not share them with the rest of the world. So I’m trying to finish my third novel. The first two novels are in a drawer and will not be attempted for a while. Until I fail my novel publishing goal, I’ll write poetry and fiction.

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