looking back at tupelo’s 30/30 project

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december 30 marked the conclusion of my “30 poems in 30 days” project with tupelo press and a fine group of other poets. when i finished, i was “up north” visiting family; the photo in this post is taken looking out over (and standing on) the very frozen lake at my dad’s place in maine. it was extremely cold and snowy there… that’s mentally challenging for me even when i’m not attempting a creative feat. plus, as wonderful as family visits are, it’s hard to steal away and be selfish with time. the trip had been planned well before the project, and i knew when i signed up that my travel days would be the most difficult — and i wasn’t wrong. not only was it hard to sit down and do the work, but i wasn’t as happy with what i put on the page.

but here’s the thing: i did it!! and i blogged some along the way, also (daily for the first two weeks, a single blog post summarizing part of the third week and then nothing ’til this post). blogging is still one of my loves, and though i haven’t found my blogging groove again since i lost it quite a while back, i’m not ready to give up.

and that’s kind of the take-home message for me from tupelo’s 30/30 challenge: i’m not ready to give up. i’m not talking about writing — i’ll never give that up. i’m talking about commitment, attention and drive. as many of you know, i have struggled the last couple years to believe in my ability to show up for this poetry life.

yes, i’ve been pushing myself as i pursue my MFA, but that effort is more thoughtful and methodical. the 30/30 challenge was tapping into an energy i’d enjoyed when i was writing most feverishly, a part of me that i thought had left the building. i had stopped believing in all those things you figure out when you are less inhibited, like how to shut up the editor, like how to face the blank page and not be intimidated, like how to free write from any starting point, like how to use what’s right in front of you, like how to follow a thought through to its end without worrying about its literary quality.

i did apologize for a couple of stinkers along the way, but mostly, i just let them be. friday, i printed out the poems i wrote and made some notes on them, primarily: “edit” or “salvage lines.” out of the thirty, i think there are only seven or eight that are entirely hopeless, and from those, there are kernels i will salvage and try to give new life in different pieces.

unfortunately, i didn’t reach my fundraising goal for the month. it’s technically “ok,” of course, but i’d like to get a little closer if i can. take a look back at my poems for the month and think about giving the effort a big thumbs up by helping the press? here’s how you can do that… and get me closer to my goal:

  • subscribe to the annual series (put “carolee” in the ‘comments’ field);
  • donate to the press via credit card (scroll down to form, put “carolee” in the ‘honor’ field) or paypal (click the button, put “carolee” in the ‘message’ field) and/or
  • share these instructions/links with everyone you know via email or social media.

i squeezed the 30/30 challenge in between my semesters at ashland university’s MFA program. more on where i am with that later, but let’s just say this: i already have work to do for spring 2014 that i ought to be doing instead of blogging. 🙂

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