17 December 2008

Resolution #1: Taking Inventory

In most aspects of my life, I'm very organized. (Of course, some of you out there know me quite well and are laughing hysterically at this statement.) I don't color code everything, but I'm pretty good at sorting and multi-tasking. However, when it comes to closets and poetry, my life is a mess.

Imagine 10-15 pairs of black flipflops--each with their own unique qualities--scattered across the floor of a closet along with 10-ish other pairs of shoes. Then open another closet, and view much of the same, except add several pairs of boots to the mix. You get the idea. Utter chaos, and no immediate hope for organization.

I am ashamed to say that my poetry warehouse follows the same loathesome aesthetic. Scores of poems just mouldering in Word documents. Titles noted in submission tracker, but nowhere else. "List of available poems" sheet that ends with things I wrote in September. It is downright shameful.

Sometimes when I'm making up submissions I actually have to use the "Find/Replace" function to find the poems I am looking for. It's that bad.

So my Writerly Resolution #1 this year is to take inventory of my poems. This seems much more important than the closets.

Anyone have advice for keeping track of poems? I know that this should involve Excel or google docs in some way--and I use them exhaustively for other things--but so far I haven't gone there yet. Is anyone else disorganized in this way, either shoes, poems, stories, or all of the above?


Sara said...

Mary, my infamous spreadsheet used to have a tab for a list of poems, and what stage of completion they were in, but it got mangled in the thesis preparation frenzy last year and hasn't gotten updated since. If you figure this one out, you *must* let me know!

julie platt said...

Oh my. I have a table in a Word doc where I keep track of submissions, but that's about as far as it goes. I'm going to try a GTD approach to my life in the new year and hope for the best from there.

Word Verification: billo

Jay Robinson said...

Maybe if you used that glue gun on this project as well,you'd certainly make some progress toward a better system of organization. Seriously, though, I think all of us feel woefully unorganized when it comes to submissions. It just comes with the territory. I used to keep a notebook of what I sent where and when it got rejected, etc. After awhile, though, I didn't like having that kind of record around. I know how disorganized I can feel as an editor sometimes, so I don't get particularly worried about this as poet anymore either.

Penultimatina said...


I had to look up GTD. I know what GD is, but GTD?

Looks interesting! I may have to check that out.

Collin Kelley said...

I just have a Word document on my desktop that lists the name of the magazine/journal, the poems submitted and date of submission. When they come back rejected or accepted, I simply cut and paste into another section of the document. Very simple.

My work in progress is divided into two documents: the poems shaping up to be the next collection and those that are in various states of drafting.

Good luck getting your poetry house in order.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Just sent you a spreadsheet.


Talia said...

I just write it all down in a journal notebook.

Lyle Daggett said...

I keep track in a paper spiral-bound notebook. It's minimal work, and pretty efficient -- I don't submit frequently or in large quantities.

Valerie Loveland said...

I like tracking of my poems.

I have an index card for each poem, which includes the date I finished the poem, and the dates and places I sent them.

Pamela said...

I highly recommend Duotrope, which is fabulous for submission organization. I use Google Calendar for deadlines.

I have all my poems and stories(and their various drafts) in folders in a file cabinet, which is space eating, but I can find them. I back versions up electronically to a flash drive and also to Gmail.

Of course, I don't have very many poems, either, so that helps.

Maya Ganesan said...

Oh, yeah...I'm definitely messy when it comes to closets. But poetry, not so much.

Well, now I'm all organized with my poems, but I wasn't at the start of the year. This summer I reorganized EVERY file of poetry I had.

I created a folder in Word for poetry, then copy-and-pasted a majority of my poems into separate docs, which I saved in the poetry folder.

I'm still trying to organize the poems from my manuscript in this manner, though.

New poems, I stick them in my "Fall/Winter 2008" folder when I first save them.

Later, I go back into those folders - I pulled some from my "Summer 2008" file - and look into the docs, which are titled after the poem's title.

whirly-girl said...

I have the same excel spreadsheet that I have been using for years. Each academic/submission year gets its own tab.

As for filing poems on my computer, I have them somewhat organized. I have a file called "preview" with all of my finished poems and my name/address/contact info as a right-justified header. From this file I pull out stuff for journal submissions. I have a file called "book manuscript" with all of the poems I am amassing towards my 1st book manuscript. I have a folder for each year of this one writing group I left behind in Boston and the finished poems (with drafts in the same file), named by poem title. I have a folder for all of my poems from my current workshop. And I have a folder called "submission stuff" in which my excel spreadsheet and my few letter templates reside. ALL of these folders and files reside in one uber-folder called POETRY.

Other than that, I don't really get much more organized.

Take on May

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