On Writing, AWP 2017, and, Once Again, Over-Obligation

The writing is slow-going but it's chugging along. Since the new year I've written maybe two or three things I consider poems and generated a lot of scribbling in my notebook, which is kind of a big deal for a girl who hasn't worked on much of anything for the past few months. It feels even more strange and auspicious because those poems are something separate and apart from my verse play project, which -- as readers of this blog well know -- has kind of consumed my attention for the past few years.

I'm not putting aside the play, either -- I'm still working on it. I'm just being flexible with my writing schedule, allowing that some mornings I'm moved to write about things other than these characters and this conflict and this particular time period. And at least I've been consistent and, well, persistent -- so far, I've kept up my writing routine of approximately 45 brief minutes every morning, in the wee hours before anyone else in the house stirs.

AWP took place in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 8-Feb. 12, and I participated in a reading for Menacing Hedge that was lovely and fun and good for the soul -- simply to be with a group of people who are doing the same kind of work. We read dark and twisted pieces and ate tacos and had drinks and it was edifying in more ways than one. And yet a friend approached me after I read one of my new poems and he asked about the new work -- he works for a journal out of Pittsburgh -- and I had to tell him that, well, you'll receive a submission from me but it's going to be a while because I share the snail's pace when it comes to writing. Sadly, one poem does not equal a submission packet, you know?
At Johnny Pistolas in Adams Morgan, a kind of homecoming

I'm not one of those writers who likes to campaign against AWP and all of its practices. I know it's a kind of monster, one that particularly represents a kind of privilege, but on a practical level I don't know how it could be otherwise and still manage to do the good things (it does do good things) that are inherent to its mission. That said -- I was disappointed in the selection of panels and readings this year, and I wonder about what that means. I'm one of the dorks who actually enjoy going to panel discussions and hearing about other writers' creative processes or research and writing projects, and I didn't find as much that sparked my interest. Or, if it did (and this happened with more readings than panels), everything I wanted to go to was scheduled at the same time instead of being spread out.

If AWP could just tailor its schedule to my tastes, I'd like, REALLY appreciate it. *snort*

The semester and teaching and grading has been going *knock wood* relatively smoothly, but today promises to be a clusterfuck of sorts. I have two meetings, one that begins at 9 a.m. and one that begins at 9:30 a.m. (I'm going to be that asshole who leaves one meeting early and arrives very late at another); a presentation and discussion that I'm hosting/moderating for the college at 11 a.m.; and a faculty writers' group to facilitate from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Then at 4:30 p.m. a kids' birthday party. Last night I came home from work feeling really depressed -- at the end of the day I'd received multiple signs that overall, there's a lot of shit I'm still not getting done. And I suppose the part that depresses me is that I just feel like giving up, to some extent. I am so tired of being pulled in seventeen directions. I'd like to just be for a while. 

And yet. I really abhor the idea of becoming one of those professors who earns a final promotion and says fuck you to the world and especially the rest of the college.

And yet. If I don't say that, if I don't tell all these other obligations to fuck off (many of which are good and purposeful and necessary), how the hell am I supposed to have any kind of life with my family, or any kind of interior life, the one that's necessary for a writer?

I know what the answer is, people. I just need to figure out how to extricate myself with some modicum of grace and class (neither of which comes easily to me, as anyone who's seen me walk in heels can testify).


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