The Space Between

Last week, I sent my young adult novel off to the Delacorte Press contest–three days before deadline because I was afraid that weather was going to keep me from getting to the post office on time. I’m not going to work on that piece again until at least April. And in all honesty, I’m looking forward to the break from Ever This Day.

Two nights ago, I submitted my November poems to the PAD Chapbook Challenge. It felt strange, and pretty presumptuous, to submit a collection to a poetry contest when I’ve never really considered myself a poet. I actually don’t think I have a chance on that one, but I submitted to it so I could practice taking myself seriously. I think I’ve never done well with poetry challenges before because I didn’t know how to take these little snippets of writing seriously — seriously enough to spend a lot of time with them in first draft form and not just jotting off a jumble of thoughts, and seriously enough to ask for–and listen to–feedback, and then to spend hours more revising them. I feel happy with Purple-striped Hatboxes, my final poetry manuscript from November, especially the way that certain themes emerged and shaped the final collection in a way I couldn’t have anticipated when November began. Being in my first serious romantic relationship, I’m still processing all of that and expected it to seep into a lot of my poetry. Less expected was how it connects to the last person I fell hard for, or to my sisters, my mother, my best friend, ideas about marriage and partnership and love. Now that I have these poems, I find myself wanting to do something with them, even if it’s just self publishing a handful of copies and sharing them with the people who played prominently in their creation.

Although having both those big projects off my desk makes me feel as though I’m in a bit of a lull period, the truth is that I’ve still got plenty to do but am just taking a breather. Next up is my proposal for the Progressive Young Adult Catholic anthology, and I recently discovered this prize for writers of speculative fiction.  And of course, there’s the syllabus for the writing class I’m teaching.

But for now, I’m focusing all my energy on this blissful ‘inbetween projects’ transition, when I feel wide open to possibility. I’m reading subject matter related to writing again and just held the premier Writing Club meeting for teens at my library. We all wrote poems about my wheezing water bottle, and I started jotting down ideas for a Rumplestiltskin retelling. I just may devote the rest of my writing life to retellings and revisions. I have a huge backlog of both!

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