Monday, September 10, 2007

Taking Stock

Shana Tova, everyone!

So I’m trying to get together a mailing list for my publisher that’s due on Saturday, so I have to finish it now. My first book of my own poems is forthcoming, but because of budget cuts, we’ve all got to do a little guerilla marketing. I’ve spent the last two days combing through emails, university websites, and other directories, finding the names of anyone who knows me and might buy the book out of pity/sympathy/support/ curiosity/ enjoyment.

I also keep re-reading the book, since I can’t censor it, to make sure there’s nothing in it that would freak out my family—otherwise, they don’t go on the list. Which would be a pity because that’s about 50 people right there.

It’s humbling and beautiful work, after the tedium wears off. It's a good way to take stock of the year, remembering the people you love and admire. A great way to reconnect to old friends—so many have written and published their own gorgeous books, winning awards on the way.

And it’s challenging. I have to make sure I don’t compare my life to anyone else’s. I have to make sure my joy at others’ achievements isn’t tainted by feelings that I should have done more. Mine, after all, is a chapbook (less than 40 pages), not a full-length. Sometimes I feel supersensitive (well, duh, poet plus academic, plus sleep deprivation, of course I’m supersensitive).

My daughter, in comparison, has a lot to teach me about feeling good about myself and about being gracious. I’m amazed at how she never has a moment of self-doubt. We walk into a room and it’s like she’s telling everyone, “Thank you all so much for gathering together in order to greet me.” So full of joy and life! She smiles, waves, giggles.

She lets bigger kids take her toys and pacifier and poke her eyes (she has no hair, so they can’t pull it), and she doesn’t take offense.

And when she cries in frustration because she’s scooting backwards and she meant to go forwards, she’s so easy to placate. Smile at her and say, “wow! Look what you can do!” and she good-naturedly decides that backwards is where she’s just going to go right now.

I have a lot to learn from her!

I want to work on graceful confidence in the year to come. (And ask forgiveness of anyone my lack of grace has hurt).

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