This time of year tends to be both reflective and telescopic for me. As I prepare for what the new year promises, I also take stock of what last year brought to my life. When I look at 2013 from a writing perspective, it was a really, really good year. I had eight pieces published over the year, three of them paying. This was my most successful year from a publication standpoint, but as all writers know, "success" is not all about the publishing.
For instance, I feel successful when I get four pages written in a sitting. I feel successful when I do a reading and people come up to me afterward and say, "I really loved your story/poems." I feel successful when I take a piece I've written already and find a new twist to it or I enrich it by adding layers to it. My success is not always about what others see or say, but what my words do for me. Writing is baring one's soul, and when we do it well, it feels so much more satisfying than when we do it half-heartedly. And if we don't do it regularly, we feel badly. It's like a runner who has to run to feel better, to feel normal. I love that that's how I now feel about writing.
Along those lines, in addition to the published stuff, I've managed to blog 96 entries this year. I assumed that this was my best year ever, as I strive to blog twice a week (Sundays and Wednesdays.) I was surprised to see that 2010 I had 100 entries. Given the struggles of that year, a year that changed my life and outlook forever, I guess I see why I needed to write. It was/is my therapy.
A quick rundown of the 2013 publications and what they meant to me:
- 2013 WI Fellowship of Poets Calendar: Angels With Dirty Faces poem. This was a poem inspired by my volunteering to help my son's Middle School Ministry. I took a single night's experience and made it into a humorous, heartfelt poem. Any poem that involves dodge ball and prayer is a good one in my book.
- MidWest Outdoors - February: One and Done nonfiction story. This story describes a day with my daughter that I will always remember. It was a fishing trip where Sarah managed to catch a muskie on her first cast. I'll never forget the look on her face and the special moments between father and daughter.
- Torrid Literature Journal - Volume VI: Can't Be Beat poem. A poem inspired while I was in a local coffee shop. I have always admired the beat generation writers including Brautigan, Ginsberg, Kerouac and the likes. It occurred to me that people (myself included) can get so sucked into the past, in some cases making it out to be way better than it was, to the point of missing the present and how wonderful it is. This poem is a manifestation of me working out the difference between past and present.
- MidWest Outdoors - May: Passing It On nonfiction story. The story of our 2012 trip to the BWCA. The focus of the story was how my brother Tom and I try to expose our children to the wonders of the great outdoors by taking them to the BWCA, one of our nations last "untouched" wilderness areas. The story culminates in our sprinkling of Rob's ashes over the waters before we leave on Father's Day, 2012.
- Torrid Literature Journal - Volume VII: Going Back poem. This is a sing-songy rhymey poem that's not really my style. What made an okay poem into a good poem was the way it was formatted. At the recommendation of a friend, this one was formatted to look like a winding river which is fitting because the poem is about going back to the BWCA and canoeing in rivers and lakes. I think that one change made it appealing enough to the publishers.
- MidWest Outdoors - August: Brothers through Thick and Fin nonfiction story. A piece about the history of muskie fishing in our family among the four Landwehr brothers. The story included pictures of each of us with our fish, but also a small picture of the tattoo commemorating the fish I caught on Rob's birthday on the October after he passed away. (10/14/11)
- Verse Wisconsin - October Of Ice and Minn poem. A poem about winters in my home state of Minnesota, inspired by a stay there over Christmas in 2012.
- Off The Coast - Fall Winter Kite poem. A poem about flying a kite in my living room in winter, inspired by my somewhat drafty living room. Especially fitting given the winter we are experiencing in 2013.
So that's it. I can only hope to have this kind of success in the coming years. Of course all of it would be eclipsed by the publishing of my BWCA book, which I am currently marketing. I look at these as stepping stones.
I want to take time to thank you who have supported me and maybe even bought a book or magazine that I've been published in. It means a lot to have you there cheering me on. Without you I'm just another guy typing words.
And finally, I have to thank the staff and students at AllWriters' Workshop and Workplace for all they've done to help me succeed. Their feedback and tutelage have helped me turn my writing into something more real. You guys rock. (A special shout-out to my Mother in-law too, for her editing prowess. Thanks Mom!)
Going into 2014, I urge you to pursue something you love. Life is too short not to.