Reflections on NaPoWriMo

Dear Readers,

My thanks to all of you who read, inspired, and gifted me with such generous responses on my poems this past month. I feel like you’ve been on a long road trip with me, and you don’t even mind that I talk too much while I drive, that I eat more than my share of the Doritos (or the artisanal small-batch, fair-trade, non-GMO dried kale chips, depending on where we last filled up), and that we somehow ended up in Philly even though I’d originally said we’d be going to Charlottesville.

Thanks to you, I’ve learned a lot along the way. This has been my first time to participate in National Poetry Writing Month, and in gratitude to you and as reminders to myself for Aprils yet to come, I want to recap these highlights:

  1. Poems, poems, poems! By my rough count, I wrote 22 new ones. Even though this is far fewer than most of you who committed to April’s NaPoWriMo, Poem-a-Day, or 30/30 challenge, this has been my most prolific writing stretch in twelve years. I also got six or eight other snippets and starts out of the effort–partial drafts that weren’t ready for prime time, but that I hope to develop into full poems. (Stay tuned for my first one from this batch, tentatively titled “I Want a Megalith.”)
  2. New and wonderful sources of inspiration. I discovered that prompts abound on the web. Though I sought and found poems in my usual sources–walks, others’ poetry, a quiet voice that drops words and lines on my head to reward me for doing household chores–the daily deadlines of NaPoWriMo often required a more e-caffeinated start. In addition to the thought-provoking daily prompts from Maureen Thorson and Robert Lee Brewer, I found brilliant and original exercises created by Danielle Mitchell and Rachel McKibbens.
  3. The afterparty ROCKS. Nothing prepared me for the lively, high-humored amazingness you people hand me, and each other, in your comments and posts. In the course of three weeks, I received a business tip from Marilyn  Cavicchia, Editor and Poet, to sell my horse-hair ponies on Etsy; was initiated, also by Marilyn, into the sacred rite of post-Easter roasting of Marshmallow Peepswas provoked to make a proposal of marriage (still unanswered–you’re breakin’ my heart over here, Judy!) to ChocoalteIsAVerb; and was featured on Vince Gotera’s vibrant and encyclopedic poetry blog. And best of all has been…
  4. The inordinately supportive, positive comments you have been making on my poems. They have been so lovely. In the last week of April, I received eight rejection notices (plus another one this morning) from journals and book & chapbook competitions, but arriving as they did while I was basking happily in the glow of your generous words, their sting was largely blunted. I’m especially thankful to Andrew Shattuck McBride, who–in addition to taking off the top of my head, in the best Dickensonian way, with such poems as this, this, and this–knows how to give one hell of a peptalk. Thanks to his and your encouragement, I’m energized to start a new round of revising and submitting this month. Seriously, friends, you are only egging me on when you do that.
  5. Resetting priorities. Participating in NaPoWriMo has broken my unhappy addiction to news websites and fostered, in its place, a radiant enthusiasm for your writing and art sites. ChocolateIsAVerb’s word-collages, DadPoet’s video-readings, Cupcake Murphy’s OddGoodTrue-ness, Doug’s “Bad Poems,” Arna Baartz’s SilverPoetry, Reno King’s poetic blues stylings, Mick Axelrod’s performance-vibe poems, Vince Gotera’s and Catherine Pritchard Childress’s poems, plus those I’ve already mentioned above, and many others, have brightened my days and strengthened my soul. As wise nutritionist Danielle Mitchell says at LitNivorous, “You are what you read,” and thanks to all your sharing of your creative gifts, I am growing better-nourished by the day.
  6. A further nutritional discovery: even when I put protein powder into my antioxidant berry smoothie, the Kentucky Bourbon still makes it delicious. This I discovered seeking brainfood when,this April, I was awake poeming at late hours. But it was friend, colleague, and writer Jeffrey Klausman who introduced me to the Bourbon recently, and long ago to the practice of writing poems. (Next time I wake up hung over and surrounded by inky shreds of paper, Jeffrey, I’m blaming you.)
  7. Note to self for next April: arrange childcare beforehand. When I rashly jumped, a week late, into NaPoWriMo, I failed to anticipate that my six-year-old was going to be at school for no more than eight and a half days for all of April. Spring Break encompassed the first nine days of the month, and parent-teacher conferences the last five. In between came the stomach flu. Hence all those late-night writing sessions. For next year’s NaPoWriMo, I’m going to save up my royalty money (ha!) and hire a nanny for a couple hours each day so I can write during my son’s school breaks without losing so much sleep. This, in turn, will reduce the need for late-night protein smoothies flavor-enhanced with Bourbon. It’s a win-win.

While I catch up on sleep over the next few months, I’ll return to my pre-NaPoWriMo blogging schedule of one or two posts per week. I intend to keep working on and posting new poems, just at a more leisurely pace, as well as myth-book reports and the occasional metaphysical screed.

Also in my plans is to catch up and keep up with all of YOUR blogs. This road trip with you has been a blast, and it’s not over yet.

Oh! Now I know why we ended up in Philly. It’s to go birding with DadPoet!

With my gratitude to you,
Jennifer

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16 comments on “Reflections on NaPoWriMo

  1. sonofwalt says:

    Yay! What a great idea. Let’s do!

    • I didn’t know you had turkey vultures out east! I’d thought they were just a west-coast thing. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

      • sonofwalt says:

        Oh dear lord, TONS of Turkey Vultures in this area. But the average joe doesn’t know what they are. They say, I saw about 20 big hawks soaring in circles today. Unless it is September (broad wing hawk migration season), I say, “Those were not hawks, but Turkey Vultures. They are always shocked at how I could know. But honestly nothing else mills around in thermals in that great of a number, even with red tailed hawks it will only be a couple. Though often I have seen a red tailed flying in the same thermal as a group of vultures.

        The really cool thing for me is the Black Vultures that seem to be expanding their territory northward. It used to be I had to go south of Harrisburg to see them regularly, but more and more I see them around here.

    • Oh, Judy, hooray! You are making my life complete!

      I know that Mark will understand once he meets you.

      Now, we just need to find a state that allows same-sex marriage AND polygamy. Or, we could all just move to France…

  2. Late night smoothies, flavor-enhanced with bourbon. Man, I thought I knw everything and then someone goes and shows me I have been falling short of “the good life”.

    Jennifer, thanks kindely for the mention. I am truly humbled as I thoroughly enjoy and glean lessons from your work. – You made my day a special one!

    • The Bourbon smoothie has changed my life. I’m thinking I can take it to the next level nutritionally by adding supergreens–you know, kale, chard, spinach or the like–just a handful into the blender with everything else. To cover up the flavor, I’d add MORE BOURBON. But then I’d be too sleepy to write…

      And you’re welcome for the shout-out. And thank you for your compliments.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer! It was a real pleasure reading your work and exchanging comments back and forth with you. It was a crazy month for me, too, but I’m glad I did it — largely for the great people I “met” this way. I think you’re on to something with the energy drinks, too …

    • Marilyn, I’m thankful to have connected with YOU in April. Please come on out for Bourbon smoothies any time. And, since this IS the Pacific Northwest, we can put coffee in that too, if you like.

      • Whereabouts? (I’m sure you’ve said at some point, and I’m just too lazy/inattentive to remember.) I was born in a Seattle suburb and then we lived in a different one for a while when I was a kid.

  4. cupcakemurphy says:

    Thank YOU. I love and look forward to your poems and words.

  5. sonofwalt says:

    Was going back this morning (It’s my Sunday morning, yes at 2:30 PM. My work schedule is inexplicable) to catch up on what I missed. I had wanted to look at all those yuymmy (chocolate, etc.) sounding links you posted here. I’m getting a belly full! Thank you!

  6. i learn so much!!
    turkey vultures….we don’t have them in australia!

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