First, enjoying not feeling a self-imposed requirement to write and post here every day. Requirements become onerous after a year, even when they’re self-imposed.
Second, a thorough re-read of all the poems to see what I really like, and for what purpose. Some pieces may lend themselves to submission to fusty poetry journals, but others may have better stand alone uses. For instance: my sister is interested in illustrating the Low Country Limericks as her personal art project this year. So compiled and illustrated, I think there’s probably some small press down in the Low Country that might be interested is such a humorous little tome, given the huge number of other little humorous tomes that fill regional bookstores down that way. Or, if not, then maybe we have a more visually interesting collaborative chapbook to send out with some future year’s Christmas cards.
Third, further exploration of the poems-as-lyrics model. In addition to the two songs posted from the fellows in Edinburgh here, I’ve been approached by a songwriter locally (who I consider to be quite superb) who has expressed an interest in taking on a few numbers, and a colleague from many years ago who’s making big noises of an industrial/electronic variety has also requested use of some of the poems. I think in a perfect world, this would be the vein in which I would most like to write poetry in the future; I’m realistic enough to recognize my own limitations when it comes to crafting melody, but I’m also realistic enough to recognize my strengths when it comes to crafting words. So if any of you songwriters out there are looking for something to say or someone to say it for you, I’m certainly open to dialog on the subject, regarding both poems in the 2004 project or new material.
Fourth, I have 18 of the 100 chapbooks I printed still sitting here by my computer. They’re not doing me any good here, so if anyone wants one, let me know and I’ll be happy to send it your way. Once these 18 go, I won’t be doing any more of this particular collection in this format, so who knows, maybe it’ll be a collectible someday, if “Happiness” wins a Grammy in 2009.
Fifth, I have to figure out what I want to write in 2005, and where I want to write it. I don’t want to walk away from the best part of the poetry project, which was being in the head space where random thoughts and ideas got committed to paper, instead of disappearing into the mental lint. I want to preserve that, I want to continue to create (not critique), but I don’t think I want it to be happening here on the blog anymore. As I started to feel like I had some things of value during 2004, I became increasingly concerned about either losing them or losing their publishability because I had posted them online, a big no no as far as more magazine or book publishers are concerned. Maybe its time to just put teasers on the blog, while the actual works go out where they should be going: agents, songwriters, publishers, readings, etc.
Sixth, as a related issue, I have to figure out what the blog becomes now. In addition to all the literary and personal reasons that I took on the poetry project, it was also a way to put something on the blog that made it worth coming back to regularly. It seems to have worked. At the beginning of the year, my website was averaging about 18,000 hits per month from about 300 trackable distinct visitors (i.e., each of those distinct visitors averaged two hits per day over the course of a month: 300 times 2 per day times 30 days per month equals 18,000 hits). In December, I received 41,000 hits for the month from about 750 distinct visitors. That means each visitor averaged about 1.8 hits per day over the month (750 times 1.8 times 30 equals about 41,000 hits per month). The key statistic there is that in January, there were about 300 people at least occasionally reading the site. Now there are about 750 people at least occasionally reading it. It’s not best-sellerdom, but it was a good growth in outreach for my work, and I don’t really want to lose the interest (or support) of those 750 people. So . . . any ideas, Committee of 750? What would you like to see here?
Seventh, I still plan to enjoy a little luxurious gloating over doing what I did. Again, it’s not penning a best seller, it’s not curing cancer, it’s not really helping anybody in any tangible way, but it was a solid commitment to work on a time-consuming project, and I completed it, on schedule and as planned. There are tons and tons of poem and day blogs and websites online, as you will find if you search for “poem a day” on your search engine of choice. But few of them feature all original poems, and even fewer of them are stuck with until completion. I’ve not found a single other one, in fact, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but means that completed projects of that ilk are far more rare than undertaken projects of that ilk. So, yes, I’m going to enjoy a few days of arrogance over that accomplishment, sans any guilt. Even though I know that 90% of this big, fat notebook on my desk is crap, I’m proud to have produced it, knowing that the good 10% wouldn’t have existed had the other dreck not been ground through along the way.
Eighth, I need to thank all of you who wrote to me over the course of the year to offer encouragement or criticism or commentary. It made it worth while, really, and there were times when I would have quit had I not received key posts at key points. I also very humbly offer appreciation and praise to the half-a-dozen other folks who, over the course of the year, told me they were inspired to start similar projects. Some of them are continuing into 2005. I imagine that some of those projects may, in turn, inspire other projects. It’s nice to know that something I did for myself had enough weight in someone else’s life to inspire them to attempt a similar project and (hopefully) to inspire others in turn.
Ninth, a good chunk of the morning is now gone and I’ve accomplished nothing other than making this list. It’s a nice list, but reality beckons. More here when I feel like it. Hopefully soon.