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Who you calling a writer?

Uhm, did you really think this blog was going to be Christian Kane-free?

I’ve spent most of this last day of being 41 sleeping and catching up with my blog roll and reading magazines. Somewhere I read something to the effect that it was interesting that in the new year we roll out a new set of things to do and future goals but we really don’t reflect on the successes of the past year. I think if I had to give 2011 a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I’d hold my thumb in neutral position mostly because I didn’t win the Pulitzer or get written up as a writer to watch. But really, taking a look back, I have accomplished a lot as a writer.

I’ve planned approximately 1,800 posts for the NEA’s Art Works blog, interviewed and written about hundreds of artists and arts leaders and arts organizations for both the blog and the NEA magazine, researched and written the editorial plan for four issues of  our magazine, expanded the unique content and interaction on our Facebook page, and somehow made the NEA Twitter feed interesting enough that we have more than 10,000 followers. I write that not to boast, but to remind myself that as a professional writer I’ve accomplished a heck of a lot!

As for my creative writing life, I published a chapbook, arranged two readings for myself, was invited to submit and was published by a couple of journals I admire, completed about 10 new poems, started a bunch more drafts, completed a manuscript, and got offered a staged reading for my play. So given that most of my writing energy went to my day job, I kinda did quite well in this arena too.

My mom once said that in order to avoid being frustrated we need to lower our expectations. But in my case, I need to broaden my expectations and really expand my personal definition of what it is to be a writer. I get so focused on the ways in which my job limits my life as a creative writer that I don’t give nearly enough credence to how my job has broadened my writing life. I’m way too fond of saying, well, this is my job, not my career. But if I want to be a writer—and not just a poet—I have to accept that it’s actually both. I do think that some day I will have a book-length poetry manuscript published. But while I’m working on that, I really need to get it through my thick skull that publication is not the only hallmark of the professional writer. Writing consistently is…and well, it turns out I do actually do that.

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