Putting it Out There

Like you, perhaps, I tend to struggle wildly with putting my writing out into world. Putting it out into the world means submitting poems to journals, submitting essays or memoir writing to publications, and then the toughest part of the struggle: promoting my work. Of course I know the obvious: if people don't know where to find your work, they'll never read it. But somehow that obvious point doesn't occur to me when I get in my frozen place, the tundra of my brain that goes still and shuts down when I sit at the keyboard and think about submitting my work.

It's really a miracle that I have any poems published. One of the last big stretches I made to submit to multiple outlets was because I was in grad school for counseling, and we had to take on our own project about change. This required easy-to-measure goals and a behavior plan. The purpose of the assignment was to teach us soon-to-be counselors that change, the thing that we're asking our clients to do every day, is incredibly hard. (Lesson learned.) Most of the people in the class chose losing weight as their big change project. I chose getting my poems published. When I had to do it as an assignment, I got it done, and actually got poems published in Red River Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and Slow Trains. Most of the poems I sent out actually got accepted. What a bizarre concept: send out work, get some rejections, and get some acceptances.

In the interest of being painfully honest, that assignment was back in 2004, and we're almost at the end of January 2013. Hmmmmm.............long gap. Ya think? Fortunately I had poet friends over the years ask me to submit my work to their journals, which is affirming and kind on their part, so that meant some more poems got published. And then there is my poetry manuscript, which after 6 1/2 years of submissions to contests and publishers, and becoming a finalist in 3 contests but not winning, it finally got published due to the support of two stellar poets and friends, Pam Uschuk and William Pitt Root.

After watching my journey from afar, and learning that the manuscript was a runner-up for the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, Pam asked to see my manuscript for a poetry series she and Bill had launched at Press 53 called the Silver Concho Poetry Series. They connected with my manuscript, and with their editing and help, my book In the Company of Spirits was published in the fall of 2012.

Now you might think that this book thing would boost my confidence, motivate me to submit more work, and in general, get me in front of audiences online and in person. It did.......a little. I did readings in California and in Arizona, and two here in DC. I got some wonderful online interviews. I sent my book to writers who agreed to review the book, but most of them never followed through. And me, well, I'm a little lacking on the follow-up when it comes to promoting myself.

While I was in grad school for counseling, I started an anonymous blog in 2005, where I was able to share intimate thoughts about my past history, about what it was like to see addiction clients, and how my life journey was shifting. I changed all identifying information. And I found that I loved making the almost daily entries on a blog with a beautiful, colorful page that was prettier than any journal I ever had.

In that spirit, I'm returning to the world of blogging so I can share the different facets of my life: poetry, writing memoir, working as a psychotherapist, and the social justice issues I support and think about as important to our survival.

To get even more personal, here is an essay I wrote about my childhood and how I experienced learning math, published at The Manifest-Station, a popular blog by writer and yoga teacher Jennifer Pastiloff where some wonderful writers such as Naomi Shihab Nye, Gayle Brandeis and Alma Luz Villanueva are featured. I'm honored to be among them.

You can read the piece here.

Wishing you peace and inspiration,


  1. Hooray, Carmen!

    I am so glad there is a place to find more of your writing. So often, I get excited when I see you have posted on Facebook, hoping it will be something you wrote. Now I have a place to go.

    I struggle with acting on my decisions, often daily. You are an inspiration.

    Love, Holly

    1. Holly, believe me, you're an inspiration to me in many ways......and I'm humbled that I can ever be one to you. Love you, Carmen

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you beautiful soul Jen---your writing and spirit inspire me every day.


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