Welcome to our weekend conversation!
Ah, summer. It’s no doubt a challenging time to create. Schedules are disrupted, trips hither and thither need to be organized, packed and unpacked for. The kids may be off from school. A parade of visitors might be stomping in and out of your home.
Not to mention the heat. The incessant, stultifying, brain-melting heat. You turn on the fan, only to see your writing pages scatter across the room. You stand up to gather them, only to feel like you’re moving through swamp water and you’ve already forgotten whatever it was you were trying to say.
For some of you, summer might be your most productive period. If your life is on an academic calendar, then maybe this is the time you shine.
Of course, just because you have the time doesn’t always mean you do the time, if you know what I mean.
So, I thought this moment, as the heat seeps in and the temperatures begin their upward zoom (ninety degrees yesterday here in Philly, and it’s only the start of June!), to talk about your summer plans.
I don’t mean your travel plans or cute-new-sandals plans. I mean your writer plans.
What will you aim to finish this summer? How many lit mags will you submit your work to? What story will you finally find a home for? Which essay will you revise once and for all and send out for publication? What contests will you enter? What collection of poems will you finally get organized and send out for publication, or publish yourself?
Maybe it’s cheesy. But I am a huge believer in setting specific, concrete goals. Naming them out loud. Holding yourself to account. Gathering people around you who have similar goals, and who will support you on your path.
Let’s hold each other to account. At the end of August, I’m going to check in and ask you: Did you do it? Did you resolve the kinks in that essay? Did you get that set of poems published? Did you apply for that grant? Did you submit that story to twenty new places? Did you study that craft element you struggle with most?
And yes, the summer can be a whirlwind of activity. Mosquito bites and sweat oozing down our backs. Barbeque smells and laughter drifting toward us as we wonder why on Earth we’ve chosen this life of locking ourselves alone in a room for hours and fiddling with semi-colons.
But still, we will create.
What will you focus on creating this summer?
What specific project will you finish and send out for publication?
What new submissions method will you try?
Will you finally polish off that essay/poem/story and submit it?
Will you dust off the rejections on that piece you love and commit to sending it out to thirty more places?
What, my dear friends, will you create this summer, and what will you do to get that creation out into the world soon?
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My would-be 28th book is a stand-alone novel that I set aside to write my 10th mystery when the publisher asked for it. Then came the pandemic and I found myself focused on writing travel and memoir essays (with 40+ published or forthcoming). I returned to the book last year and despite a break of a few months recently, I have 70,000 words and feel fairly close to the end. I need to do some field research for a penultimate revelation scene, and that's something new for me. I think I can get this done in the three summer months, but then yesterday I was hit with an idea for a new essay, so ideas for short work might slow me down--and that's okay. I'm not on a deadline and having more than one project going is fun. P.S. Six hours later: I have a solid draft of an essay about my encounters with ghosts.
Heheh! My goal was to find a publisher for a next chapbook, and I felt it would be a long shot; I put together my manuscript in late April, assuming I'd be sending it out, re-arranging poems, etc...
and I just received an offer for a contract from the first place I sent to. I thought it was a reach, and not likely! So I'm a very happy camper, and will be working on finalizing this , getting blurbs, etc, and seeing what I can do go get more traffic on my blog.
As I've been doing, I'm submitting broadly with careful research...and will admit that in spite of my desire, I have chosen to pay the small fee required by a couple of lit mags because they seem like a potential good match. What I'm enjoying tremendously is that I'm writing even more and more readily and letting my authentic voice pour out more easily. What the result will be is unknown, but it feels great. After a very long period (almost a year, I think) without acceptances, I have two sites I enjoy and respect that will be publishing three poems, all written (or in one case, revised) with this increasing feel of freedom in voice and imagination.
Gonna complete the second and third acts of my play in time to submit to the Yale Drama Series in August!
Going back to a novel I've let sit for 3 years. It needs a lot of work (you see the problems when you get to a familiar thing with fresh eyes) and it looks like a perfect summer project.
Hope to finish/polish/edit my second poetry collection and start sending it around to publishers.
Thanks again, Becky, for this forum. It's fun to read everyone's game plans!
My goals remain unchanged through the seasons: Continue my memoir about bursting my silence & finding a voice + Studying lit mags + submitting excerpts + Adding entries to my substack at a quiet pace + Living a life.
This is what I love about Lit Mag News: How you gather us all around the fire like a favorite camp counselor and propose projects. Lovely. At the moment, I am pondering turning down a job leading a twice a week writing camp for ninth graders, which would probably add 250/week to my bottom line, to remain undistracted. What writing, I can then ask Self, can be worth that approximately 1,500 bucks in cold, hard cash? Well. This summer, I need to take a(nother) cold hard look at my collection, "A Wound Is Also a Place to Live", which has yet to find a home. Submit more? Revise more? To be honest, I've only sent it to four publishers, which makes me wonder: When do you know it's good enough? How many rejections do you accumulate before going back to the drawing board? AND I must make strides on my novel, which is beginning to look at me mournfully from the desktop file where its fragments and outline reside. Already accomplished and submitted: an edit of my own translation of an essay I wrote originally in Spanish about my romance with the Spanish language. The original version will come out in Luvina, the lit mag of the University of Guadalajara, next month.
I love Bukowski's poem because I just started a new job (only a couple of days ago) and I feel like it has slowed my writing progress. Although my writing progress was somewhat slowing before I switched jobs. And my goal was to write as much as I could during May (which I did) and now I am taking more of a "reader" break until June 17, and I've started reading "Best American Essays of 2022" and falling in love with the writers and the essay format. I would like to finish my book sometime soon (July ?), I'd like to keep publishing to my substack (possibly essays), usually my writing goals are simplified, something like "1000 words per day" (which I was able to accomplish most of May) but switching to submission and publishing goals is a bit different. So lets say my goal is to finish my book by July, and publish 10 times to Substack in June.
My goal this summer is to finish my 2nd draft of my memoir, "rabbi, Your Cleavage is Showing." I've had to withdraw from all my vocal commitments for the summer-painful but necessary.
What are my goals for this summer?
These are great questions. Perhaps by answering them, it will give me that extra motivation to pursue them without flinching, without giving up. First of all, the goal for the year has been partly achieved, which was to get at least one story published (got two), and win some contest (got to be finalist in the Rash Award in Fiction.) I hope I can publish at least two more stories in print publications this year, but most of the material has already been sent out to places like Reed, Granta, Public Space, The New Yorker, Nimrod, Georgia Review.
So the real goal for the summer, while in the pass focused on one thing, one task, this year will spread out like a wild fire into several ones.
In the past, I’ve entered some competitions using my published short stories which some take place in Venezuela, and some take place in the States. This year I decided to divide them into two collections. So I plan to enter them in the Flannery O’Connor prize, the Eliud Martinez Prize, Katherine Anne Porter Prize and the True Heinz Literature Prize. It is an ambitious pursuit, I should have done this many years ago and not allow fear of rejection, fear of losing, get in the way. Truth be told, there’s very little extra work that needs to be done. The stories have been published, some have won awards. All I have to do is arrange them in a particular order, create a table of contents, and acknowledgments. Some require what they call “the full citation” of works published. So no problem.
Most literary publications go dormant in the summer and do not read again until September, so I have time under the summer heat to write fresh material, and I am using as inspiration John Fonte’s Ask the Dust, to guide me in the dramatic arc that I want for a new story, hopefully, long enough to be a novel.
I shoot for a poem a day -- one of my goals is to finish the manuscript of my Jazz and Blues poems [many of which can be read at JerryJazzMusician]. I have two other books of poetry in the works, as well as a book of short stories.
Thank you for asking! I hope to finish the Discovery (1st) Draft of my (1st) novel (although I've attempted others, this one seems to be happening), and I will send it out to beta and sensitivity readers August 1st. It's an epistolary novel about a 12 year old dealing with sudden loss and the outsiders who try to help. I'm also writing poetry and flash and sending them out on the reg, so thank you, Becky, for all you do! If women+ and nonbinary writers are looking for support with their process (showing up to write, etc), I run a thing called https://www.bravespace.online/
I am an academic and have lots planned for the summer, which for me, begins mid-May with the end of the spring semester. I am working on a book proposal to turn my dissertation into a book for two academic presses that approached me at a conference in December. I am working on a full-length poetry manuscript. I am also working on my new YA historical novel in verse and will be doing research in Brussels this summer for another YA historical novel in verse. I'm attending a five-day writing retreat in the Austrian Alps where I hope to work on something memoir-like about my Junior Year Abroad in (West) Germany in the late 1970s as a Jew. I hope to delve into revisions of a middle-grade graphic novel. I'll also be teaching four courses in July and August (async online), so I realize how ambitious this is, but summer is all I really have. I have a conversation this coming week with my editor about the proposal I sent in late March, so depending on how that goes, I may have to shift priorities to make room for that YA historical novel in verse (my fourth).
On the shorter side, I submit to a local college's lit mag each year and so sent a new short story earlier this week. I have a longer short story (7,000 words) out for critique and want to submit that. I need to type up a novella that's still in the pages of my notebooks (I no longer write longhand, because transcribing is tedious), and that novella is not finished. I envision a short story collection centered on Holocaust survival that is anchored by this novella.
I may send out individual poems.
Because I know the summer is all I really have, I push like crazy to get it all done. Once the fall semester starts (and I'm teaching seven graduate and undergraduate courses in English, History, and Holocaust & Genocide), I can't really do much outside of that until winter break.
Weekends are generally my writing time and when summer finally puts in an appearance here in the Northwest, it’s mighty hard to sit still. That said, I’m committing to publishing two essays each month on “Mama Ephemera’s Muddy Feet” (kellylenox.Substack.com), so am heading to my desk as soon as I post this comment! Looking forward to a brief retreat later this month with Padraig O’Tuama and hoping to come away with lots to build on. Besides writing, sending out my second poetry collection again and again, and an essay or two as well. Agree with the other commenters’ gratitude for your pulling us all together to plan and dream!
Love this thread and the poem. I’ll save both to come back to.
I signed up for the SmokeLong Summer so I’m going to commit to fully participating in that. My writing/submission mantra is “on Sundays we submit and that’s it.” Which sounds like Sméagol, but it works for me. So every Sunday this summer because I should have material from SL.
My reach goals would be an essay a month and targeted submissions, which I’ve started to do instead of my usual - spray and pray.
Laser focused on finishing SPHEREAN. A dystopian novel.
Have two novels to wrote this summer, but the real project is writing and recording audio for two serialized stories for my son.
I loved this stack. I find it timely and a perfect way to start of a productive summer of writing, editing, and submitting.
I've given up on submitting. No editors want to read what I'm writing. My Submittable is a long list of "DENIED." I'm just gonna publish my stuff on Substack.
Doing heavy gardening gets my summer writing going with greater intensity and commitment. I plan to continue writing poetry, have an idea for an essay that involves the strange nest-building behavior of one seemingly bewildered robin in my backyard, and have three reviews to write, planned for the next 6 weeks, two are poetry collections, and one a historical novel. I'm literally digging up by the roots an average of 6 - 8 thistle plants per day in order to win the weed battle. This, by some strange phenomenon, causes me to dig a little deeper in my writing / reading work. Two of the editors with whom I work regularly, recently informed me of situations of serious illness in their families which may threaten their ongoing work. As I struggle to understand how difficult it must be for them, I also ask myself to become a little more dedicated to my work. For me, reading, learning how to do new things, and critiquing new books are all deep pleasures. Except for publishing new reviews, I'm deferring attempting a new poetry collection for the time being. My recent reading of historical novels has me considering doing a short one of my own (a kind of practice novel, not a full-fledged attempt at publication. A wet-my-toes approach.)
My goal for the summer is to finish a collection of photographs and haiku that has been in progress for the past year and continue revising the present timeline for my novel in progress. (Major characteriztion work needed.)
Here is a new form of poetry. My working title is the "achoo" the musical sneeze-sound my cat Sopphi makes. Some might call it an improvisational aphorism.
Here we go: we 've reached high irony recently,
A muted threat posing as a joke
When oblivious Know Nothing Rip VanWinkled castigate the "woke".
I woke up at 15 when I found the stories of Damon Runyon and other cityurban writers, totall refeshment froml the domination in "English" curriculums of the rural with a different dog or horse novel every year from first to eighth - Little House On The Prairie, Old Yaller, The Yearling, The Red Pony, My Friend Flicka, My Muchacha Murray ( abook that the highly influential right wing GABLE family- decider of textbok contents) wqnted to have banned because "We have never seen a Hispanc horse only a burro eating a burrito).
From age 4-14, I lived with my family in a south Brooklyn housing project with the respective enclosing streets from Avenue U to Avenue Z, and from Nostrand Ave.Knapp St. It was a project hurriedly built for WWIIVets; and my dad had served with the tough general Bradley in North Africa and Sicily. Throughout the US thousands of such projects werebuilt
Yet throughout my childhood and adolescence, I seldom if ever saw on tv or in the movies or read in any book, a single story, poem, orshow about the urban experienceo, including living in a dumpy apartment with theexcepton ofthetv show TheHoneymooners featuring Audrey Meadows, Jackie Gleason as a totally gullible bus driver and Art Carney as a sewer worker.
The people on charge of education in the US were (and in some cases still are) racist either consciously, for while I was in school from 1951 until 1963 some of the finest urban literature was being written- led by three black woman - Ann Petry, "The Street", Lorraine Hansberry "Raisin In The Sun", and one of the finest writers the US have ever had- the fiirst African Amercan writer to win the Pulitzer Prize- Gwendolyn Brooks of Chicago. Whereas many Americans or have heard or were taught (brilliantly or mediocrely by teaches) that Walt Whitman and Robert Frost and Carl Sandburgh (long shelved) were WRITERS OF THE PEOPLE and FOR AND OF THE "COMMON MAN", Brooks was by far the exemplay poet in this regard, living most of her life in Chicago alongwith attending and leading writing workshps in community centers, and, in the sxtiworkng wiith many social just groups locally and nationally.
I was (and still am) "in" the civil rights movement and three quarters of the way finishing a novel about the historicic San Francisco State College State Strike (from November 6,1968 to March 21 1969 where a skillfully wrought coalition of over ten to fifteen thousand students, teachers, parents struck for four and a half months (still the longest student strike in US History) and won the nation' first Black Studies along with an entire School of Ethnic Studies after four and a half months of battling police almost daily (over 700 students were arrested; over ten years late charges were dropped andexpunged from records even though scores of had served jail sentences of 30,40,60, and in the case of one leader TWO years.
We had our 50th reunion in 2019. It was very successful and the Department of Ethnic Studies is stilll one of the prize jewels of the California State System.
During the whole covid period I also put together my first book of poetry, poems from 1964 to last month, with Human Error. It's entitled TRAVEL TICKETS (from a very fine seven line wallop by one of the masters of the short poem, Samih Al Qasim of Palestine ( his poetry book is SADDER THAN WATER- tremendous!
Love this thread! I have a second book in development at the moment and, aside from my Substack, will be continuing to prioritise it. We are heading north to the Scottish Cairngorms in July and I always feel so inspired to write when up there surrounded by a different type of nature. Good luck, everyone!
Keep working on my first book of petty--slog through more research on where I can submit it. Have joined a new critique group and hope to use that to my advantage. And of course, keep on writing!!
I’m trying to finish Leonard Peltier and the Family He Left Behind. I’m writing this book for one person: Joe Biden. He’s the only one who can offer executive clemency to Leonard who was wrongly convicted and has spent the last 48 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
I’m also hoping to find an illustrator for my graphic novel, Worst Case Scenario: Election Night 2020, in which Rrump declares martial law and Native Americans decide to take the country back.
I have two summer goals: Firstly, finish a massive rewrite of my six part TV series scripts so that they are ready for novelisation in the early autumn. Secondly, draft the short film script I've been commissioned to write. Those two things are huge tasks, so we'll see how we go!
I am being ambitious:
1) Finish the 2nd draft of my memoir (about 1/2 done with that). It's still definitely a DRAFT but trying to follow Allison K. Williams' advice and make it the story draft.
2) I'm doing the Smokelong Summer program and am pretty hopeful of getting at least two strong pieces of flash done and submitted there.
3) Continuing to submit the pieces that are rejected (and some new stuff). I'm learning to revise better.
4) I continue to work on overcoming that imposter syndrome stuff!
Right now I'm pulling back from submitting short stories simply because there's a glut of submissions within my chosen area, as well as problems with AI. Additionally, Amazon dropping the Amazon Subscriptions option is causing a shakeup.
However, I have enough previously published work to go with unsold stories that I can put together some collections. Getting out a collection of my more fabulist previously published short stories is my summer goal, along with writing some filler to go with a set of dragon stories about colonialism that I'll be serializing on Kindle Vella. I also have a book in the editing process that will be released in September, and more books that need worldbuilding and outlines.
Bukowski’s poem is like a bang on the ear - just get on with it! So I have my novel out with beta readers, and I’m squirming with anxiety, but in the meantime, I’m going to dust off a longish story I wrote a while back and change the POV to 1st person. And try to get some flash pieces I wrote, but never bothered to send out, published. Fingers crossed. And also, make myself a website - something I’ve been procrastinating on for years. So, thanks for the “bang on the ear” :)
I'm getting stories in shape for submission to college-affiliated lit magazines once the fall semester begins.
I'm retired from serving congregations and I teach part-time at a private school for nuero-divergent kids.