At the start of each year, I like to write a retrospective of the year before and what I’ve been up to as a writer. If you’ve been following my blog for the past ten years, you’ve seen No Wasted Ink undergo gradual changes. This past year, was a drastic change to the blog. My posts are very basic and I’ve even considered closing No Wasted Ink completely due to my busy schedule. For now, it will remain open and the thousand plus posts are still available to read. And yes, you will still see the occasion new post from me here.
So what happened? Why is the blog as quiet as it is?
A writer and poet leads a dual life of sorts. We spend plenty of time in our home offices at the keyboard, and if you are like me, we also spend plenty of time giving readings, speaking at conventions or conferences, and teaching workshops. 2022 looked to be a typical year for me.
I am the convention coordinator for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. This means I am the person to promote readings and poetry panels for our membership at conventions all across the United States and sometimes abroad. I am asked to do four major events each year, but typically I do a few more. I like to arrange the readings to be virtual since this allows more of our members to participate, but I also coordinate in-person events too. I had my first main convention to coordinate in January. It was a hybrid event in Chicago.
In the middle of all the work, I got an unexpected email from my home city. Was I still interested in being the Anaheim Poet Laureate? In 2020, I had interviewed for the job and been fingerprinted as part of the hiring process. Three days later, the city had closed its doors in the face of the pandemic. I was regretfully informed that the position was closed and no one knew if it would return. Like most people, I was dealing with isolation and fear of the unknown in early 2020, the loss of the job was simply one more thing to endure. So when the email came in January 2022, I was flabbergasted. I emailed back that yes, I was interested. I filled out a new application and sent it in.
I interviewed for the Poet Laureate position in February via Zoom. I was better prepared for the role this time around. In the two years between the first interview and the second, I had researched what poet laureates did on the job and not only discovered many good ideas, but learned poet laureates are individuals with varying skillsets. This helped quell my impostor syndrome. I had new community leadership experience via my poetry association and had become a poetry editor with several anthologies under my belt.
I returned to my typical activities as a writer and poet. I attended open-mics to read my work and promote my poetry book, continued to revise my science fiction novel with a critique group, and was putting together my second reading event of the year for the SFPA with an online convention that takes place in April.
In April, I got another unexpected email from the city. Could I come and read one of my poems at the city council meeting in two days. Oh, and by the way, you are now our new poet laureate.
My husband and I arrived at the city council meeting and I read my pushcart prize nominated poem “Close Approach”. I was also told at the last moment to speak to the council about my background as a poet. Thankfully, I have years of experience speaking on convention panels, so my introduction is well rehearsed.
So here I am. A poet laureate. This is a bucket-list sort of thing. I had no idea how much work was going to come with the new role and if I could continue to be the convention coordinator for the SFPA. After much thought, I decided I would remain with the international association of poets, but I would need to be more strict with my number of events for them. Sticking to doing only four a year and no more.
My poet laureate duties were slow to start. The first few months there were many meetings with the city, but few events. Then everything flipped and I was extremely busy with events and less planning. Our city has eight libraries and I wanted to teach a workshop at least once a year at each branch. I planned to attend and support the monthly Open-Mic at the main library. I was asked to organize a flagship event called “Indie Author Day” at the main library in November. The author event took a great deal of planning and is the largest in-person event I’ve ever coordinated, but it was a success and we had over 250 people show up.
I continued to plan events for the SFPA during this time. I put together a full poetry program in Baltimore and in Los Angeles. By the end of the year, I created four major events for the organization as promised.
By the end of November, I was exhausted from coordinating two major events in the same month, along with all the poet laureate duties. All I wanted to do was stay home, visit with family and friends and attend a couple of the local writer group parties during December.
At the last minute, I was invited to read with a local poetry group at a bookstore. It turned out to be a mistake. Two days after the event, I became very ill. I fought fatigue, chills and muscle aches. I could barely get out of bed. Then the dread news hit as I tested positive for Covid. I ended up canceling all parties, my birthday dinner out, and my husband and I had Christmas at home. I watched many Hallmark Romances and Christmas movies I never had time for in the past. All my writing projects went to the wayside as my brain settled into a Covid induced fog.
The New Year finds me with a negative Covid test and a return to normal strength. I’m writing again and looking at my very empty social media editorial calendar. There is a great deal of work ahead to get the blog, Instagram/Facebook, and Twitter back up to snuff. I now manage my own writing social media and the Poet Laureate media for Anaheim.
My new year resolutions are to join a writing challenge and get more short stories and poetry written. I am also hoping to continue my urban sketching and painting with watercolor on occasion. I continue work on my novels, but they are more in the background as I focus on poetry. This spring I am planning on creating a new outline of my steampunk novel based on the input from my science fiction critique group.
2022 certainly was an unusual year for me, but I look forward to 2023 and all the possibilities it holds. It is all an adventure in poetry.