Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Donald Hall Standard - Mid-Year Review

I wrote about my devotion and adherence to the “Donald Hall standard” last year in this “Bibs and Bobs” entry. Well, it’s six months later and I just finished reading The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon by Donald Hall. It is an extraordinary memoir. The Best Day The Worst Day is both the chronicle of Kenyon’s leukemia, but more importantly it is a writer writing about his life as a poet and the development of Jane Kenyon as a poet. It is also the chronicle of a twenty-three year relationship. If found it deeply satisfying to read.

I’ve ordered three more Hall books. He is so prolific that I may be able to spend the rest of my life reading his work. Meanwhile, I assess my own writing. The “Donald Hall standard” is to publish on average one thing a week. For the first six months of this year, I published:

2 poems in print journals
2 poems in an anthology
2 essays
6 columns
12 reviews or interviews

That’s a total of twenty-four things. Two short of the goal, so I must confess, in my mind, I’m counting the two papers that I wrote for school as the other two things produced, though, of course, not published. I have to save some face.

It’s interesting, of course, that fully 1/2 of my publications are reviews. Sometimes when I am spending the time writing reviews or doing interviews, I am cursing myself for the investment of time and energy that they require. I wonder if they take away from my time writing. Then when I step back and assess my writing over a particular period of time I realize how important it is to read intensively and write reviews. This is good as I have a stack of books on my to be reviewed pile right now, though I have a commitment to myself to cut back over the next six months. I’d like to focus on getting a few more essays completed and I am thinking and reading around a larger book project. It may mean that I struggle with the “Donald Hall standard” though the numbers are only a piece of it. The essence of it is this: Writing every day. Reading. Turning inward. Dedicating myself to the page.

***N.B. I just realized that I didn’t count the four new columns - which were published as three on Out In Perth as a part of CIVILesbianIZATION. So I think I met the standard quite handily.

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