Last weekend I was creating my 2015 poetry folder in Dropbox, and I started looking back through previous years’ folders (with one for each year, going back to 2004). In 2014 I wrote first (and some subsequent) drafts of 60 poems, 40-something each in 2013 and 2012. Taking that initial inventory prompted me to dig into the files some more.
I sorted out the poems that I’ve published in journals and in my chapbook, and imagine my surprise when I tallied around 300 unpublished poems, counting a 55-poem manuscript I drafted in 2005. I promptly asked my wife to guess how many unpublished poems (dating back to 2004) she thought I had, and her response was 93. When I told her to triple the number, she was as shocked as I originally was.
This entire “discovery” shifted part of my writing goals for 2015. At the end of every year, I reflect on my “production” as a writer, as well as on what I’ve published. Then I look ahead to the next year and set goals as far as poem drafts and revisions, story drafts and revisions, essay drafts and revisions, book reviews, blog posts, etc.
For poetry, my initial idea for 2015 was drafting a new poem each week, and revising a poem each week. Well, realizing my “back log” of poetry, I decided to change my plan somewhat, instead writing at least two poem revisions a week, and not “requiring” any new poems this year. I’m teaching a poetry writing class again this spring anyway, so I’ll no doubt generate some new poems when I’m writing in-class poetry prompts with my students.
For whatever reason, I’ve started working through poems from the 2008 folder, and it has been so much fun! I don’t have the pressure of the blank page (a pressure that after all of these years that I still feel at times), and I have the benefit of six years’ distance. I can’t wait to count how many “old” poems I’ll have revised by the year’s end.