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November 01, 2012: First of the Second to Last Month of the Year

November 1, the first day of the month, came in with a whoosh and a bang, the sound and the sight of the goat shed door slamming into the door frame. I could tell that Peaches was upset about this. This morning there were dark circles under her eyes, and she stared dully out into space. If she were a cancer patient, I’d say that her numbers are on the rise. She was not accepting of my entreaties. I considered inviting her into the kitchen addition for this would enable her to get a much-needed rest. But I knew that if I mentioned this to Pete, that he’d say no. I have learned that it’s far better to take on the battles that I can easily win.

All ‘n all, a tough day for Peaches. And a tough day for me. I’ve been working at revising the ten poems that I’ll be submitting to an upcoming contest. It’s not going well. I’m just not a good enough writer. This is going to be immediately evident to manuscript readers.

I think that in order to be a good poet, that you need from the time you are very young to be totally immersed in the craft. You also have to be reading lots and lots of poetry and sharing your work with others who are reading lots and lots of poetry. There can be little else going on in your life.

I admire those who committed to the genre because it’s a monetarily thankless endeavor. For example, James McManus, in Positively Fifth Street, a book about his preparing for and playing in the World Poker Championship, remarked that he spent seven months working on a poem for which he received $30.00. My thinking was that he was lucky -- $30.00 is a windfall for a poet. Instead, he took two years to write his poker book. I don’t know how much of an advance he got on the book, but he won $250,000 at the poker table. Actually, he at one point had $850,000 in hand, but he gambled it away in hopes of getting a good story.

I like writing poetry, but I feel more at home writing essays. This may be because I feel that I have more room to roam around. When I write or revise poetry, I soon begin to obsess about each and every word. And after a bit, I begin to feel somewhat rummy.

It’s not that writing essays is easy. All good writing, no matter what form it takes, requires considerable time and mental effort. Many people don’t realize this. For instance, a neighbor of mine once remarked that she wished she could do what I was doing – stay home and work on something she felt passionate about. (This, I think, was weaving). What I didn’t say, because I thought she would not understand, is that my work life is no picnic. I live with the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with attempting to produce good prose, and live with the self-doubt that goes hand-in-hand with rejection. And I feel guilty at those times when I’m not working on a project, even though I know that my subconscious is then attempting to solve a writing-related problem.

But right now the bottom line is that I’m not pulling my monetary weight around here. This is at a time when I need to be doing more. The new compost facility and tractor still need to be paid for. So I am probably going to have to stop writing for a while, and do something that pays, like substitute teach. I fully know what I am giving up – that is my writing time. Is it worth it? I have yet to figure this out.

Next: 327. 11/2/12: Compost Continues to Happen