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Another Year “In the Books” - My Writer’s Journey in 2022

by Mike Turner

Please welcome Mike Turner back to the Writers Journey Blog!


Many thanks to Elaine for inviting me to return to the Blog with an update on my writing journey! I’m a poet/songwriter living on the US Gulf Coast, writing with a purpose: to inspire hope, understanding and community through poetry and song.


If you scroll back to my earlier guest blogs [“It All Started With a Pen Name” (September 27, 2020), and “2021 - That Was the Year that Was” (January 2, 2022)], you can read about my ‘strategic planning’ method of pursuing my writing. Now, as we approach the end of 2022, let’s take a look at how well (or not!) I’m accomplishing what I set out to do:


I set some high-level goals for 2022:


I. Write and produce poems and songs that illuminate common aspects of the human condition

II. Achieve wide distribution of my poems and songs

III. Grow and support an audience who are affected by what I write

IV. Achieve professional/peer recognition as a writer


To pursue these goals, I need to write, and get my poems/songs read and heard. I established specific, measurable objectives* for the year:


A. Write 25 news poems/songs

B. Submit 25 poems/lyrics to curated journals/anthologies for publication - including submitting to 6 new journals/anthologies which have not previously published my work

C. Have 25 poems/lyrics published

D. Record/release 3 songs as the recording/performing artist

E. Obtain 2 single/album “cuts” of my songs by other recording artists

F. Present 3 live readings/performances


* These target numbers are admittedly somewhat arbitrary - they’re based on past-year performance, and are both aspirational and (hopefully) achievable. They’re intended to motivate me to consistently move forward in pursuing my high-level goals.


Here’s how I’ve performed against these metrics as of this writing (November 10, 2022):


1. Wrote 99 new poems/songs

2. Submitted 83 songs/lyrics for publication, including 28 submissions to new (to me) journals/anthologies

3. Had 61 poems/lyrics published in 26 different journals/anthologies - this includes 19 poems/lyrics published in new (to me) journals/anthologies

4. Recorded/released 20 songs as recording artist

5. Obtained 3 “cuts” recorded/released by other performing artists

6. Presented 10 live programs


I achieved two significant milestones this year. First, 2022 marked 10 years that I’ve been writing songs and poems. Second, I hit 200 poems published since I first started submitting in mid-2019 (I’m at 241 as of this writing). I hope to surpass 250 in 2023.


I also was profiled as a songwriter two music magazines in the UK, and as a poet in two US podcasts (with another scheduled for mid-November), and did 2 guest posts for this blog (counting this one!).


I’m pretty happy about all that! But in my mind these numbers are more a measure of “effort,” than “effect”; “output” versus “result.” So the big questions remain: are people reading my poems and listening to my songs? Am I having the positive impact that I seek?


The measures here are indirect, but encouraging. With my poetry, I’m active in a number of writers’ groups on social media, where I post links to my published poems and engage in discussions. People know me there, and they “like” and comment on my poems and lyrics. Publishers of anthologies that carry my pieces ask me to submit to upcoming publications, accept my submissions and keep bringing out new anthologies, which means they’re selling enough of them to justify new volumes. All this tells me that my works are being read.

The same is true of the songwriting groups I’m in; plus, I can see raw numbers of “streams” and “views” of my recordings to tell me that people are listening to my music (in 2022 I passed 31,000 views of my original songs on my YouTube channel). Other songwriters ask me to write new songs with them - one unique accomplishment this year was to co-write three songs with a novelist for use in her series of blues-based historical mystery books. Another of my original songs was incorporated into an historical play staged in Mobile, Alabama. Several local groups asked me to present my live music programs, and one of my song videos was featured in a world-wide streamed event commemorating the UN International Day of Peace.


It’s perhaps a bit of a leap of faith to think so, but people wouldn’t read/listen to my stuff, and ask me to write and present new works, if they weren’t positively responding to what I’m putting out there. That’s evidence that I’m having some of the impact that my “mission statement” focuses on.


One thing I set out to do this year, that I didn’t accomplish, was to complete a couple of on-line courses on the mechanics of how to record and produce music tracks - in other words, to hone my craft. I bought the courses, but didn’t dedicate the time to sit down and watch them. Who knows what I might have achieved had I taken them! I plan on rededicating myself to growing my craft in 2023.


And I learned a big lesson about myself in 2022: I really don’t like “hawking my wares.” Early this year I attended a significant literary festival with a couple of author friends, where we had a tent to sell our books (my poetry collection was published in 2021). I enjoyed the festival and made some great peer contacts, but I hated pushing my book on people! I get a lot more satisfaction having my poems individually published in curated journals and anthologies, and publicizing those works in person and on-line (particularly on social media).


This lesson has implications for the musical half of my writing journey, where marketing/promotion means sending individual recordings to broadcast and Internet radio stations and playlists for play. I expect this to be a big part of my 2023 plan, so it will be interesting to see how it works out. This is a conundrum for many of us writers - we like to write, we like to tell stories; and yet there’s this whole other part of the writing “business” that calls for an entirely different skill set in terms of marketing and promotion. If anyone out there has some tips on how to get emotionally invested in that aspect of the writers’ journey - not just how to do it, but how to endure it - I’d love to hear it!


So, where does all this leave me at the close of 2022? As I’ve said, I’m happy with what I achieved, and I can see things I’ll aim for in 2023. As I learned from years of strategic planning in my former government career, it’s important not to get consumed by the planning process - plans aren’t an end in themselves, but rather are tools to help one progress towards an ultimate objective - and if we don’t act on our plans, they’re just words on a piece of paper.


As this blog’ name reminds us, as writers we’re on a journey - one to be savored, enjoyed and celebrated; an adventure that may take us places we didn’t know we’d go, challenging us to higher levels of accomplishment along the way. I thank everyone who’s come along with me to this point - folks reading this blog; my friends and peers in the writing community who encourage me with their camaraderie and support; and especially, everyone who reads my poems and listens to my songs.


I invite you to come along to see what happens next - onward to 2023!



Links:

Website: http://www.MikeTurnerSongwriter

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeTurnerSongwriter

YouTube: www.YouTube.com/MikeTurnerSongwriter

Twitter: @SchoonerSkipper

Instagram: @MikeTurnerSongwriter











Click on the book to buy or browse.

Book: “Visions and Memories”, available on Amazon at


Bio: Mike Turner is a poet and songwriter living on the US Gulf Coast. He was named Poet of the Month by the University of South Alabama Libraries in 2021 and featured on the “15 Minutes of Fame” stage at the 2020 Monroeville Literary Festival. Mike has had more than 235 poems published in numerous journals and anthologies, and his songs are streaming on major music platforms. His poetry book, “Visions and Memories,” is available on Amazon.





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