Most of us don't have writing lives that consist of day after day, month after month, year after year of success. If your writing life is like mine, you have a year that has a success, perhaps something remarkable, like publication of a chapbook or a book with a spine. And then, maybe you have year after year of plodding along, with a poem publication here, a reading there, but not the remarkable high mark of a book publication. You might wonder if you'll ever get to a high mark again.
You might also wonder if there's something you should be doing in the relative quiet of the down time to get ready for the increased pace of the high mark time. I've written about that before in this post, as has Kelli Russell Agodon in this post. You've probably already done some of these things. For example, most of us have some sort of bio, and maybe we have bios of varying lengths. Many of us have created blogs and websites. If we're writers, those kinds of tasks play on our strengths.
Here are some other things to think about.
I've spent more time in the past 2 weeks than I like to think about trying to figure out how create an address database and import it into Word to make mailing labels. Finishing Line Press will send out 100 postcards to promote my new chapbook in the pre-publication time, but I have to send them mailing labels. You'd think these huge, widely used computer programs would be easier and more intuitive, but I know better. My spouse, who has done more work with these programs than I have, couldn't figure it out. I knew we were very close to having our list of labels, but I could only get one address onto one label; it was maddening. For me, the missing step was to hit the Update Labels button. If I had been on a tight deadline, or if I was a serious procrastinator, I'd have been out of luck when I hit this glitch.
It's holiday card time--why not start typing those names and addresses into a database now, while you have time?
You should also start a file where you keep photos of yourself that you like. You might protest that there are no photos of yourself that you like. Well, start working. Look at the photos of others that you do like. Try out those poses. Most of us have a digital camera and most of us have family, friends, and partners. Surely one of those people would like to play with you as you try out different poses in different locations. Kelli has a great post on photo sessions, and Sandra Beasley talks about author photos done by professionals in this post.
I'm late to the world of digital cameras, and I'm late to the world of Photoshop. Photoshop reminds me of my brain. It will do far more than I need it to do. But I have forced myself to learn some of the elements: to change a color shot to black and white, to crop and edit. And later this afternoon, I'll use my newish printer for the first time to learn how to make old-fashioned photos. I've gotten so used to storing and viewing pictures digitally that I've never used my current printer to create photos. I should have been playing with all of this earlier.
And of course, the challenge comes in staying current with all the old and new technology, with all of our collections (of poems, of photos, of addresses), while at the same time continuing to write the poems (or whatever creative work we're doing). And we have to do all of this, most of us, while maintaining some sort of job that will pay the bills and spending time with partners, families, and friends, and taking time for rejuvenation. Ah, the eternal quest for balance!
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