I have always wanted to have books of my poetry published. I wanted to be a professor as well, although publishing was always the priority dream. But I wanted to teach at the college level, and I wanted to have books published and to travel the world and do residencies and win grants. I wanted to get my MFA and get a doctorate.
A lot has changed over the past 10 years. My mental issues have frequently been intense. They have left me a bit too tired to pursue a stressful life. But I think impacting my dreams as well is my happy marriage and my wonderful child and my beautiful home. The truth is that really ambitious people are hungry for it, and at this point in my life I’m just not hungry for it. I’m not saying I’m not writing poetry. I write poetry all the time, by hand and on my phone. And I like to revise it, and to do projects where I use Google Translate to create new editions of the poems and edit those. It is just that I have submitted to one magazine this year (and got accepted!) Poetry is my passion. I am blooming creatively, producing more than ever, since I stopped submitting. But I have felt less of a drive to do the endless book publishing competitions and to send my work out to magazines. I may still try to get a chapbook published because I have another one waiting in the wings and I tend to enjoy chapbook publishers the most. I like the format and I like the creativity that goes into them.
I just like enjoying my home life and focusing on creating. I want to focus on writing, not submitting. I like to pick up additional creative outlets like blogging, painting, bookstagraming, and editing photos too. I like to spend my time reading. Any time spent searching through thousands of literary magazine or book publishing competitions takes away from doing what I really love – writing.
Once upon a time this wouldn’t have mattered to me. I was so ambitious and so determined, that I would do any amount of drudgery to get published and to achieve what the world would consider to be a measure of success. I wanted to get my voice out there to a reasonably large audience. But now I’m not so sure. I’m comfortable with my life and I’m happy with how much time I get to spend creating, and I don’t want to cut into that time. Maybe when I’m an empty-nester and I’ve reached a new phase of life I will feel differently and try to get published more. Maybe even in a year I will feel differently and go back to submitting my work. I do understand that without doing the work of submission I will not be successful, at least not by the common definition of success. But for now I’m happy with the chapbook I have published and the few magazines that I have been in. It was an honor to be accepted by those publishers and I cherish that.
I guess I’m so busy living a happy life that I don’t really care if other people think I’m successful. I know that I have a good life, which is more than what some of even the most successful people can say. I have a family I adore and I spend all day doing what I love. Maybe it is enough for me to publish my creative work on my blog and just be happy with the readers I have. I appreciate the readers I have. I love to blog. I don’t love submitting my work to magazines
Maybe I am just not an ambitious and type A person anymore. I am much more relaxed and softer. Or maybe my ambitions have just changed. I literally have my ideal life. Happy family, a beautiful home, an amazing collection of books to read, and tons of time to write and do all sorts of other creating. As the years go by I may decide to go back to publishing and I may develop professional ambition again. But for now I like just putting my work out there on my blog and spending time doing things that I love. I am perfectly happy to put my poems out in front of a few people and just enjoy the process of writing more than anything else. This makes me a very different person than who I once was. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I will tell you I’m a happier person than I was.
Maybe a joyous life with the family you love and days spent doing what you are passionate about is the best ambition to have, and I have met my goals. Besides, as I write I am building a greater and greater volume of poetry to submit to magazines so that when I decide I’m ready again, I will have a lot to work with. And I will be much more practiced at the craft because of all the reading I have been doing and all the hours I have been putting into writing. So hopefully I will come out of this period of reclusion a better writer.
It is time though for me to acknowledge that I am at a different point mentally and emotionally. I have only submitted to one magazine this year. My work has been accepted, which is very exciting. This magazine is one I really believe in. At this point though, I need to reconsider what my values are and where I am in my life, and what I really care about. Because I make time for the things I really what to do, and I have not been making time to submit. I think I just needed a break. The question is how long the break will be. Right now I feel like my life is a beautiful creative retreat, and I want to focus on that rather than the business end of things.