My current list of writing projects are this: 1. publish Hanami, my first poetry manuscript, 2. work on an as yet untitled non-fiction/memoir project, and 3. complete Ohana, a second collection of poems. I’ve written about the first goal in the past. Much of that goal’s work are brief spurts of submission activity followed by a lot of waiting, which can drive you crazy. I’m surprised at how much bandwidth the whole manuscript submission thing can take and how it can sometimes drag on other things in my head. And so, a few months ago, I really started to define the other two projects.
The untitled non-fiction project, which I think I’ve also written about in the past, has had three distinct attempts, which have produced a lot of material. But more importantly, each attempt has solidified the goals, parameters, and vision of the project a little bit, pushing the project a little bit further down the road. What I’ve ended up with are solid themes, a defined sequence of episodes, and a bunch of brainstormed drafts. This project, for the first time since its inception, has really felt like it’s coming together. Which has been nice.
The third project, Ohana, is kind of an interesting one because it snuck up on me. Newer poems that didn’t seem to fit with Hanami were dumped into another file for me to try to think about later. But one day, I was looking at it, and there were almost three dozen poems that had, strangely enough, a distinct theme. This brings us to writing challenges.
When I first started seeing calls for joining a writing challenge, they didn’t appeal to me. I don’t like “forcing” myself to write because in the past, I’ve often found that material to be mostly stuff I would just discard. But after a few years, I found myself in periods where I would just drop writing. Often in favor of aikido or tai chi chuan. But as these different areas of flow have started to come together, I found that I really did need something to keep the writing going. It was too easy to just say, I’ll do it in a little bit. In any case, I’ve ended up challenging myself to do challenges, which is something more you’ll hear about soon. I’m doing one now and will be doing another next month. My hope is that I’ll build up more material that will allow me to get Ohana a bit closer to being a “full manuscript” and allow it to take some of the weary pressure I feel from the non-fiction project off my mind. Wish me luck.