Readers! I made a bit of a tactical error way back when, by creating a mailing list AND a blog with its own separate list, and I have a million social media accounts I neglect. All of which is to say, forgive me if you’re getting this news twice or thrice, but eager I am to share that I have new poems out in the world!
But first…is it spring where you are? Earlier this week we had another massive storm here in northern California. The rain, a constant pitter-patter. The rain, filling up my crawlspace and dripping in my window. The rain, flooding roadways and overflowing rivers and closing highways.
Atmospheric rivers. We’ve had—seven?
And the wind—yesterday, a tree crushed the house next to the one where my band practices. I thought for sure the eucalyptuses on Albany Hill were going to come down. On Sunday, driving north from visiting family in Santa Barbara, my kid compared the landscape to Hawaii—he’s inherited my love of hyperbole for sure, but nonetheless: there’s not much golden about the Golden State these days. Everything is green.
Oh, but—the flowers are beginning to pop out. Battered, petals everywhere, but—in bloom. And we need them. With the rains have come the when it rains, it pours, adage—seems like many people I know have had more than their share of tragedy recently.
So: bring on spring. And with spring showers come…spring poems?
But we’ll chat before then, I hope. Drop me a line.
And if you’d like to hear from me just four times a year, use the pop-up that appears on this website to sign up for my mailing list. That’s the easiest shortcut to my rambling newsy updates about new poems and more (I share reading recs, too).
I hope this finds you well, dry, and as happy as can be, and I send you my gratitude, as always, for sharing with anyone you think might be interested.
Truth: Ahead of time, I had convinced myself that the event would be pretty stressful, full of intimidating publishing industry “gatekeepers.”?I kept thinking, I just have to get through this. I had gotten myself a little worked up by?last Thursday, the day the conference?started, and even considered popping a Xanax before the first session. But then I went to hear Brooke Warner,Cynthia Frank, Regina Brooks,?and other editors both local and from New York talk about writing and editing non-fiction, how to create a memoir book proposal, who to work with, how to categorize your work, and more. I felt immediately?happy I’d trekked up Nob Hill on a hot day with a heavy bag (sans Xanax, for the record). The editors were accessible, the content was good, the format was easy, the hotel was nice?it was an utter treat to be there.
This was my first writers conference, and I’d managed to get in as a presenter in the poetry division. Saturday morning, I moderated a panel on “deadly writing habits” and then presented on a panel about how a day job can support one’s writing.?Because my duties were fairly limited, I was able to attend all the sessions I wanted on Friday and Saturday: craft (in the sense of, how-to-write) sessions, meet-the-agents sessions, sessions about how to use Twitter and Facebook and other social media to build a writer’s platform. I filled my notebook to the brim with notes, ideas, contacts, questions. I collected a fistful of business cards. I pitched my memoir to five incredibly kind literary agents (three of whom gave me the green light to query them?yeah!). I had a lovely lunch with a book editor I’ve hired, a woman I felt I could be fast friends with (she’s terrific: if you’re looking for an editor, ping me via the contact page or on Twitter and I’ll connect you. Also check out the eatery Harrow, in downtown San Francisco?yum.) I met, paneled with, and read poetry with a wonderful poet from UC Davis, Andy Jones, and spent a lot of quality?time with my writing-mom-walking buddy Aya deLeon (who has great news?check out her blog!). I met writers, editors, agents, publishers, teachers, social media experts, and more.
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk at the conference about community. In a panel on building a writer’s platform, Andrea Dunlop from Girl Friday Productions, a Seattle-based editing/publishing/coaching business, talked about how the best way to build your writer’s platform (e.g., your stance as someone people will want to read) is to simply be a part of a writer’s community. That means reading your friends’ books, reviewing them, being in a writing group, hosting a reading series, going to readings, supporting your local bookstore, and tweeting and blogging and Facebooking about all of that. It was enormously comforting to me to hear that something as simple as having a thriving community of writers could do wonders for your work. Because I do have that wonderful community. (You know who you are.) And being at the conference was another exercise in community-building. I’d feared it would be about posturing or one-upping, but instead, it just felt supportive, like gates were opening rather than being held?closed.
During the conference, I felt so invigorated, despite the fact that I was up at six on both Friday and Saturday mornings and the days went long (and my dinner Friday night consisted of some cheese and charcuterie and about three glasses of wine, which made Saturday’s wake-up less than awesome). During the week in my normal life, I often feel exhausted by working, writing, parenting, and keeping everything together. It felt promising that while at the conference I felt energized, excited, and possible, and that nice feeling stayed with me through a leisurely Sunday and Monday at home with my boys. Of course, questions were raised as well, particularly about the catch-22 that is “the writing platform”: in order to build one, you have to publish a book; but when you try to publish a book, everyone wants to know whether you already have a?platform.
That, and other conundrums, will certainly stay with me over the next few weeks as I dig out from the conference: I have emails to send, tweets to tweet, notes to make sense of, ideas to put into fruition. I’ve got a handful of new connections, was just invited to join a writer’s group, and of course have some queries to send out (and a book or two to write). It’s exciting, thought-provoking, and?good, and I’m so glad I went.
I'm working from the premise that motherhood is not just all diapers, tantrums, and setting limits. It's interesting. Okay, sometimes.