the shake-up is shaping up

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As I shared in December, I’ve planned a kinder, gentler approach to my creative life for 2023. The new approach is like sensible shoes: not quite as sexy but less pain, more mileage. At least that’s the idea. And so far, so good!

I’ve been keeping up with art and writing by doing at least one small thing each day.* Some days, I’m happy with what I get done. Other days, it’s hard to believe that these small efforts will reach critical mass. And on both types of days, I’m trusting the process. Overall, that means less fretting, so that’s an early win for the self-imposed shake-up.

It’s also helping me reconstruct the idea of myself as a poet and artist, and I’m shamelessly nurturing that both on my “regular”/poetry Instagram (@carolee26) and my visual art Instagram (@gooduniversenextdoor).

Here are five more early wins for 2023 –>

Win #1 / I created a vision board. It captures some of the feelings and activities I’m hoping the year will bring: fire/passion, contentment, individual wisdom, the wisdom in community, playfulness, imagination, magic, whimsy, surprise, beauty, rest, adventure, flexibility, confrontation of fear, etc.

Win #2 / I researched four residencies. Of those, I applied for one and decided to pass on three.

Win #3 / I was mentioned in two email newsletters that I admire: Tupelo Press (for my reading notes on the Tupelo Quarterly anthology) and Donna Vorreyer’s Substack Put Words Together, Make Meaning (for a 21-day visual art challenge we completed together). These sketchbook pages are from that effort:

Win #4 / I’ve written five or six poems and rejoined my ongoing poetry workshop.

Win #5 / I’ve been working on simple compositions in my sketchbook and doing some printing with a gelli plate.

In all things, I’m focusing on experimentation and play, offering myself grace for the messes and really digging the discoveries. It’s something to celebrate.

And speaking of celebrating… Jill Crammond has a poetry book coming out!!!! Handbook for Unwell Mothers is available now for pre-order from Finishing Line Press.

Order your copy now. You’re going to love these stunning poems! I can’t wait to hold her book in my hands. Every time I see the cover with her name on it I get excited all over again!

You can read “Still Life Without Gratitude,” one of the poems from Handbook for Unwell Mothers, in the Lost issue of pidgeonholes. I’m always impressed by her work. It’s full of such heart and executed with wild imagination. Kelli Russell Agodon says it better: “Crammond’s voice is like no other—funny, dark, powerful, honest, vulnerable.”

Jill and I have been writing together for something like 20 years, and having books out is something we’ve been dreaming about and working toward together the whole time. I’m so, so proud of her for keeping hope alive and getting this done.

Handbook for Unwell Mothers is expected to be out by Mother’s Day. I’m counting down the days.

One of the reasons I knew I had to shake things up this year is that I put the brakes on my own manuscript midway through 2022. I got spooked and stopped believing that it would ever become a book. Not working on it was a safe way to be right. I sat for a long while in the comfort created by quitting a labor intensive project. I gotta be honest: it was refreshing to not have it looming over me.

But isn’t it true that our true work calls us back?

Gertie, an alter ego in many of my recent poems, wasn’t done with me and started talking to me. She would not be abandoned. Leave it to me to create a determined, stubborn, pain-in-the-ass character.

And so I’m back at it. And glad for it. There’s lots more joy in it now than when I bailed, and that has everything to do with the new mindset. It also helps to see the people and writers I love finding their voice and having their moment. It shows me that the work matters and gets me excited for the possibilities for all of us.

Go, go, go, Jill! I’m behind you all the way. And I’m right behind you. Thanks for reminding me it can happen. Your timing is perfect. ❤️

*This is part of something called 365 Journey, a small (local-to-me) group of writers and artists working with the fabulous D. Colin to “do a little something each day” to reach our dreams and pursue our passion/purpose. There’s a little more about that project here (at the bottom of my December blog post about 2023 goals).

One comment

  1. In my universe you deserve sensible shoes!

    We need allow the stumbles inherent as not-knowing transits into something else.
    Maybe just a nice window view. PS Jill’s poem, wonderful.

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