Signing off for 2017

Another year, another set of domestic disasters, rejections, frustrations, minor triumphs and bursts of silliness. Oh, and some poetry too.

It all began really well, with winning the January Rattle Ekphrastic competition. I still like the poem too, which is good. (And not always the way these things unpack). But then I failed completely to write any further poems for the monthly comp, which was not the intended result.

Then I started getting really good about sending out lots of poetry submissions. Trouble is, they kept coming back with variations on the theme of thanks, but no thanks and don’t call us, we’ll call you and where did you get this address and why are you sending me this shit? (Ok, no-one actually said the last one, but it began to feel implied.) I’d racked up half a dozen rejections by the midpoint of the year, which did take some of the wind out of my sails. (It’s not you, it’s me … hang on, no, it is you, after all.) But I managed to get the bloodstains out of my metaphorical toga and gamely waded on, picking up a couple more rejections, but also a brace of acceptances. (Thank you Landfall and Poetry New Zealand.)

On the plus side, I managed to act as midwife to six other poetry collections this year, which I’m crossing everything that can with medical safety be crossed in anticipation of seeing them snapped up by publishers. It was hard work, but a lot of fun. And I’ve got Helen Bascand’s manuscript more-or-less done, and am just waiting to get it back to do a final frisk and whittle (technical term). Again, hard work (although more so emotionally than intellectually), but it feels really good to have it done. And it’s going to be so good!

Writing was better this year, even if not as good as I’d hoped. Five new poems, including one I’ve been brooding over for a number of years, and which slots in to the Cowarral sequence. (Incidentally, for those of you who see the name and don’t know how to pronounce it: Cow as in the animal that goes moo; a as in cat, and ral to rhyme with pal. Cow-a-rral, with the stress on the second syllable. I’m pretty sure it’s an aboriginal word, most likely in the Birpai language, but I don’t know what it means. If anyone out there can enlighten me, please do!)

Assuming I survive all the work that needs to be done on the house (roof, garage, windows, argh …) I’m going to make 2018 the Year of Finishing Janus. No more excuses. I know, I was supposed to get it finished five years ago, but life got severely in the way. Having done Helen’s book and worked on the other six collections, I do know that it can be done if I just knuckle down. I’ve been delaying myself by fretting about editing and polishing individual poems first, but I’ve decided that I need to forget all that and just get the damn thing put together. Lay it out. Put it in order. Then do whatever rewriting or editing or new writing I need to do to fill in the gaps and get it done. Because it’s going to be a decade between books, which means any momentum I’d managed to accrue from The Summer King has been long dissipated. (Curse you, second law of thermodynamics!) Time to just get it done, and let it fight for itself. See if someone wants to put their money where my mouth is, so to speak.

Lastly, and as a bit of brazen advertisement,  in 2018 I’m going to offer two formal mentoring slots. A few people have asked me about them, so lets lay it out there. Up to ten hours of one-on-one mentoring, structured however works best for you (face to face, email, phone, a combination, or whatever.) Whether you want someone to set you assignments to help you develop your writing, work with you on a particular project, or just edit and comment on work you’ve got languishing in a drawer somewhere. I charge $50 per hour, with a minimum of $150. So if that sounds like something you’d like to take me up on, get in touch with a rough outline of what you’d like to do and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

So there you have it. A boast, a confession, a pimping, and a promise (of sorts). May 2018 be a vastly happier year than poor addled 2017 has been, with poems galore, acceptances by the bucketload, and general joy to as much of the world as can handle it.


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