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My New Year's Resolutions

Erica’s 2020 New Year’s Resolutions:

Finish something big by the end of 2020. I have two big projects I’m working on right now: my second full-length collection of poems and a series of essays about being the parent of a child with a mental illness, which I plan to publish as a book. I’d like to have both manuscripts done and ready to send out before the end of the year.

Enter at least 5 contests. In 2019, I entered two contests. I won the first one and received an honorable mention in the second. That’s a better rate than my non-contest submissions. Both contests were free. Winning Writers has a good list of free contests.

Organize my list of journals I wish to submit to by due date. So many times I’ve missed due dates because my spreadsheet of journals I’d like to submit my work to is organized alphabetically. Such an easy thing to do: just re-sort it by due date. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this yet.

Improve my vocabulary. I recently reviewed Michael Kriesel’s wonderful book of abecedarian poems, Zen Amen. This book introduced me to many strange and intriguing words, i.e., “Xenogenesis,” “apperception,” “tetragrammaton,” and “zygomancy.” I’m not sure any of these will work themselves into a poem of mine, but just reading them stimulated my brain. I’m glad I encountered them.

Explore poetic forms. I’ve written a few ghazals, one or two sestinas, many pantoums, a villanelle or two, even an abecedarian. I’m always gratified with how the limitation of forms increases creativity. Forms I’d like to try: the golden shovel, gnomic verse, and contrapuntal poems.

Explore essay forms. I greatly enjoyed Vivian Wagner’s article about the “hermit crab essay,” which, to quote from the article, “takes the form of something un-essay-like—such as a recipe, how-to manual, or marriage license—and use this form to tell a story or explore a topic.”

Join the 100 rejections club. This means sending out far more submissions, which means I really need that list of journals I mentioned in #3. To quote Isaac Asimov, “You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success, but only if you persist (italics mine).”

Attend writers’ conferences. In 2019, I went to AWP in Portland and the Oregon Poets Association (OPA) conference in Salem. In 2020, I plan to attend, at the very least, Willamette Writers in July and OPA in September. 

Freelance more. Research. Query. Pitch. Repeat.

Increase the number of subscribers to Sticks & Stones. Right now, my list has approximately 450 active subscribers (the number fluctuates weekly). I’d love to get to 1000 by the end of 2020. 

Here are a few resolutions lists for writers:

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