Going into 2024, I knew that I had to make changes as a writer. I was letting myself get down too much, go long periods without properly writing anything, and allowing writers block to live in my head rent free. That had to stop. Part of my year so far as been editing my next horror novel, the second Dreadful Seasons book, and getting back into the spirit of editing and writing every day. That was a big help, but then I saw The Stafford Challenge and I became intrigued.

The Stafford Challenge is a writing challenge for poets, and the challenge part is writing a poem every single day for a year. There’s no stipulations or word counts, no specific type of poems that must be written, or even that the poems have to be immediately complete. The point is to just write, or start writing, a poem every day from January 17th 2024 – January 16th 2025. One whole year of words and seeing where they take you. I loved this idea, so I signed up through the Hindman Settlement School here in Eastern KY.

A quick sidebar from the HSS website:

The Settlement School’s mission is to provide education and service opportunities for people of the mountains, while keeping them mindful of their heritage. While our mission has remained the same since our founding in 1902, our programs have evolved over time to meet the changing needs of the region.

The Hindman Settlement School

Anyway, yes. I signed up! I’ve joined a couple of online groups for the project, and I’m honestly really excited to get into it. For a couple of years now I have wanted to put together a poetry book, but didn’t feel like I had quite enough of the type of poems I wanted for it. So this is really going to help me on achieving that goal in the future. I primarily right about home, my beloved Appalachia, and the trials and tribulations of the people here. I write about grief and loss, and difficult things that sometimes hurt but also feel good to get out. I want a cohesive set of poems, they have to be just right, and I’m hopeful that the Stafford Challenge is a big step for me in getting there and becoming a better poet.

It’s going to be hard, and I am aware of that. I have work, other writing obligations, books to read, and a trip to Europe in August. Through all of that, though, I will be writing poems. I’ll take my notebook with me when I travel places, and there will be something kind of wonderful about penning a poem in Scotland, where the brunt of my familial DNA is from and also where I got my name. I’m looking forward to that one especially!

I plan to update here every Tuesday this year, and I really hope I meet that goal. I might sometimes post a poem that I’ve written in the challenge, or at least update everyone on how it’s going. Wish me luck, cause that’s a lot of words and a lot of thinking, and sometimes I just don’t have it in me. I’m going to make it though, I think, or at least I’m going to make the best attempt I can!

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