Five Stupid Things Not to Do (that I have done)

Confession time.  Here are five utterly daft things I have done in the process of trying to write and submit poems.  I strongly suggest you do not do any of the following:


1. Post your heartfelt poem in a feedback forum you don’t know very well

This I did early on, about this time last year.  It seemed like a nice place, I had posted one piece, had some friendly and helpful suggestions so I dared to post something a bit rawer, a bit more personal.  They absolutely shredded me.  Actually I say they, it was just one person in particular who happened to be a supervisor or leader of some description.  I was very humiliated and quickly left, the poem never recovered and has been retired to the poetry orphanage.  Unlikely to be adopted anytime soon.


2. Share personal poems without thinking it through.

I suppose all poems are personal in some way but obviously some sail a bit closer to home than others.  Recently I had a poem returned which I am very glad was rejected.  Re-reading it after having not seen it for a long time I was horrified that I would even think of having it published.  I don’t even want to read it. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad poem, but it’s far to exposing.  It’s in the orphanage making friends with poem Mcshredded above.  On a similar note I once had a poem published that referenced someone who I thought would never, ever come across the material.  You can guess what happened there.


3. Not save your work properly.

Oh yes, the idiot factor is going up with each one.  Again about this time last year I lost a whole load of lovely poems that I was working on.  They were part of a sequence.  I can’t tell you if they were any good because I lost the lot somehow and could not recover them.  I didn’t save them properly and they are forever missing in half written action.  I work out of drop box now.


4. Guess your postage

So you know when you read these blogs by editors who bang on about people who don’t put proper postage on then you roll your eyes saying well of course I would never do anything like that!  Well apparently I did.  Some poems popped through my letter box the other day.  I got the postage wrong.  Who would have thought I wasn’t an expert on how many stamps you actually need?  Perhaps there is a particular term for idiotic poets.  I think it might be Stephanie.


5. When submitting to a competition email in the document with all your drafts on it instead.

This little beauty I managed just this week.  Don’t ask me how, being this daft is a gift, I can’t train you in it.  I was lucky that the competition was being run by someone very nice who got in touch  but oh, how embarrassing!  It is the jewel in my stupid things I’ve done crown.


So there you have it. Don’t do any of the things I do and you will be fine.


Numbers this week – one poem written every day, yes, (although I have yet to manage today due to horrible insomnia and a very late start this morning but somehow it must be done) one editing session, yes, a couple of competitions entered and a sonnet very badly learned.  I also had a lovely surprise in the form of an acceptance from the Emma Press for their Campaign in Poetry Anthology and an even bigger surprise of an invitation to go and speak to a cluster of schools about writing.  I have found entering the competitions hard, it feels like a bit of a waste of time really but I am trying to stay focussed on what I can learn  by exploring what it is like to enter competitions and then of course by studying the winning poems.  Poems that come back to me can then go on to be submitted to magazines where I hope they might have a better chance.

Elsewhere I have been kept busy with the second set of theatre classes for my new youth theatre company, volunteering at my son’s school and starting a return to exercise class for those who have long term illness (imagine a room full of old people and me, then imagine all the old people being much fitter than I currently am and you get the idea).  Next week all my friends will be in London for the launch of The Darker Side of Love, a new anthology of anti-love poems, I will be toasting them from a distance.  So that’s week four, with a little bit of luck I will manage to avoid adding to my daft things I’ve done list for the rest of the year, I won’t be holding my virtual  breath though.


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