Winter writing retreat, day 1

My grading finished and my weekend over, I spent the last hours of Sunday night planning my writing time for this week. I say all the time how I’m not usually one for rigid writing schedules, but when I’m doing a writing retreat — even an informal one at home — having a schedule helps me focus.

But, of course, I’m already off it.

Our cats had a vet appointment this morning — that was already on the books — but it was late, nearer to lunchtime, so I figured I’d get an early start on the writing just to get my head in the right place for the rest of the week.

But then, as I headed off to bed, I started thinking about a couple of chapbooks I’ve had ideas for (NOT the thing I thought I’d be working on this week!) and I wound up staying up late to work on one of them. And then this morning, as I headed into my study, I remembered what a mess I’d made of it in my last frenzied bits of grading, so instead of writing, I spent my morning cleaning my study.

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“Clean,” for me, is usually a relative term. It mostly means “places to walk and sit.”

All of this is fine, by the way. I’m not losing any writing time — I just bumped the first couple of hours forward into last night, and I was going to have to clean the study anyway. If anything, I’m ahead of schedule now.

So, this is how I work.


In the afternoon, I had planned to wrap up that chapbook work I was doing last night so I could get back to my novel, but then my chapbook publisher, sunnyoutside press, passed along an interview opportunity, and since this is day 1 and I’m still trying to establish working habits and a daily-writing mindset, I figured starting in on the interview would be a more productive use of my time than staring at the computer all afternoon wondering what to do next. So I did that.

And I still got some work done on the chapbooks. In fact, one of them is a story away from being complete, and the other is mostly just in need a title (which is my least favorite part of the process).

So, day 1 = success! Not a lot of work done, but more done in one period than I’ve managed in a while, and I’m certainly eager for tomorrow, when I’ll have the whole day to spend writing!


While I’m thinking about it, I went ahead and pulled down all my chapbooks:

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In case you’re wondering what all is in this pile, here’s the list (note, some of these — especially the two I handmade in college or the one by my friend Curtis Thomas, who hand-stapled them at a copy shop and gave them away on street corners — aren’t widely available, so good luck finding them):

  • Christopher Bowen, We Were Giants
  • David Breeden, Building a Boat
  • David Breeden, The Guiltless Traveler
  • Matthew Burnside, Infinity’s Jukebox
  • Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise
  • Jodi A. Drinkwater, Blood and Water
  • Sarah Rose Etter, Tongue Party
  • Beth Ann Fennelly, A Different Kind of Hunger
  • Tom Franklin, Poachers
  • Kirpal Gordan, Deadpan Parables
  • Jeffery Hecker, Instructions for the Orgy
  • David Jewell, Ten Poems
  • Matthew Klane, Friend Delighting the Eloquent
  • Matthew Klane, Sorrow Songs
  • Jodie Marion, Another Exile on the 45th Parallel
  • Hosho McCreesh, For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed…
  • A.M. O’Malley, What to Expect When You’re Expecting Something Else
  • Carol Priour (ed), Butterfly Mother: Poetry from the Children of the Hill Country Youth Ranch
  • J.P. Reese, Dead Letters
  • Ross Robbins, All in Black My Love Went Riding
  • Ross Robbins, Sexxxy
  • Barbara Rodman, Flying Suacer
  • Ethel Rohan, Hard to Say
  • Daryl Scroggins, The Entropy of Hunters
  • Daniel M. Shapiro, How the Potato Chip Was Invented
  • Samuel Jeremiah Snoek (yep, that was me before I got married), A Book Full of Poems
  • Samuel Jeremiah Snoek, Closed for Repairs
  • Samuel Snoek-Brown (and this is me married — and happy: see how much better my art is?), Box Cutters
  • Parker Tettleton, Ours Mine Yours
  • Curtis Thomas, The Magical Kingdom of Now
  • Meg Tuite, Her Skin Is a Costume
  • Ryan Werner, If There’s Any Truth in the Northbound Train
  • Ryan Werner, Murmuration
  • Ryan Werner, Oh Lie, I thought You Were Golden
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