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Michelle's Musings

2023: A Year of Growth

I'm not big on New Year resolutions because I rarely call upon them throughout the year. But I do like to reflect upon my writing progress, or lack thereof. If I'm honest with myself, lack of progress is not an issue for me as I've done lots in the way of advancing my writing. Still, it sometimes feels like I haven't done enough. That sentiment stems from not having achieved any writing awards or publication outside of my monthly newsletter column and this blog. While I'm genuinely happy to see someone else achieve a contest win or an acceptance for publication, sometimes we need to fall back on something other than peer recognition of our work to remain motivated.


Fortunately, I enjoy the solitary practice of writing; however, this past year I set out to expand my writing community. I'm currently immersed in the final weeks of three fall classes, although I'd fully intended to drop one or two at the beginning of the semester. The poetry class I added at the last minute was the likely candidate to be cut as I've not been a hearty fan of poetry. However, I'm learning different literary and poetic tools and styles that can only enhance my prose writing, so I pat myself on the back for hanging in there with all three classes.


I'm impressed with the caliber of writing by fellow classmates, which further motivates me to improve my craft. I even submitted work, including poetry inspired by a few prompts, to several contests and anthologies. The submitted poems hadn't yet been critiqued by my classmates because of imminent deadlines that I wanted to meet. But when I finally received feedback, I realized where my work could stand improvement. Of the submissions I've sent thus far (not just poetry), I've heard back from about half (all declinations). However, during a demonstration of the school's curriculum platform, my instructor (an award-winning, Pushcart prize-nominated poet) who teaches all three classes referred to his list of prior submissions. When I saw his accumulated rejections (probably in the hundreds), I was heartened to see that rejection doesn't necessarily reflect one's aptitude for writing, which renewed my optimism and energy to keep chugging along. I remain hopeful that one or two of my remaining submissions will be accepted, and I give myself kudos for having the courage to send in my work.


Earlier in the year, I seized an opportunity to write a story to be set to a performance in collaboration with a choreographer. By design, the grant did not provide for the four teams of collaborators to see their projects to completion—although we presented our works-in-progress to a sold-out audience. From that effort, my choreographer-partner invited further collaboration with me, and he's currently producing a dance performance based on a new piece I wrote. Our project will be showcased at his studio's upcoming 15th anniversary celebration next spring.


Several months ago, I responded to a call for volunteer/mentorship applications with a Los Angeles based writing organization (WriteGirl) that supports, empowers, and mentors teen girls with their writing. The application process ended up being more rigorous than I anticipated. First, I submitted a bio in order to be considered for an invitation to apply. A few months later, I received the invitation and underwent a thorough vetting process, including an FBI/DOJ background check. I then attended two mandatory three-hour training sessions, and I discovered that award-winning writer and poet Amanda Gorman who read her work at the Biden-Harris inauguration is an alumnus of WriteGirl, which now has global outreach. I attended my welcome session just days ago and will have more to say about the organization in a future post.


So all this is to say I really don't have much to lament with respect to my writing accomplishments for 2023. In spite of multiple rejection letters, I actually feel more energized about the paths I've embarked upon this year, and I look forward to an even more fulfilling 2024.


No matter how small your accomplishments seem at times, and no matter how many of your manuscripts are rejected, there will always be a place and a need for your voice. I hope you realize a rewarding New Year full of wonderful writing!

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