In a former life, having gone through the rigors (or something) of a once yearly review or Performance Management Process (PMP), with concrete examples of strengths and weaknesses identified and discussed and “competencies” pored over and scored, with follow-up dates assigned and tasks and goals set for the future (not only for the reviewee but the reviewer), with the whole thing summarized and an overall rating awarded on a scale of 1-5 (1 being without flaw and 5 being pack your bags), with dollar signs attached for a merit increase and the obligatory signatures and exchange of smiles and handshakes, all done with varying degrees of integrity over the years (on both sides)- having gone through these rigors, it’s hard to shut that machine off.
They do say past performance indicates future results.
That’s debatable. But I now periodically put myself through something similar. I can’t help it. The whole PROCESS. It seems to have become ingrained. I mean on the writing shebang. It’s my “job” after all of which I’ve umpteenth goals, most quantifiable, many not. And when I noticed this morning that I’m nearing a thousand new pieces of writing, all written within the last two years, this activated my latent PMP genes. It was time to clear my figurative desk for a formal assessment. I did an assessment of sorts back in January during my Manuscriptland adventure (no need to travel there now). When reading back although spot-on in the “where I am” sense, the tasks and goals for the future didn’t exactly pan out. All that idealism! A problem we like to have when life intrudes and here six months later I’m still gimping along down this long and lonely road, bloody and beaten but with lessons learned and spirits intact. What else is new? Chalk one up for resilience! But it’s time for another pit stop. Like RIGHT NOW. A cathartic lubrication and jiggling of the nuts and bolts. A tune up.
Oh cruel taskmaster.
Oh geez! So yeh lots of writing and what of it? A good enough hard piece of evidence to start with. For this PMP on this particular competency, we’ll call it Productivity (write this down), on a scale of 1-5 we’ll give our boy a score of 2. No one gets a 1 (unless the reviewer is reckless). I’m not. The point being if you get a 1 where do you go from there? Everyone has room to get better, even in their best of times. Besides, this isn’t a eulogy. We’ll give a 2 on Productivity as 912 individual poems, essays and stories written over two years (ballpark 730 or so days, an average of more than one per) demonstrates a production shop that’s been humming along without cease.
Competency: Productivity: Score 2
Keep it going. Of those 912 there’s lots of variety! We’re talking atheists and eggs benedict, testicles and guns, lighthouses and toilets and heart murmurs and oceans. The old gray mare and what it’s like loving you. We’re talking the South. And Heaven. Italy. Fascists and infidels. John Doe. Peace and God. Even Steven. And Adrienne Barbeau’s tits for which apparently I’m a go-to source the world over (ask Google). Of those 912 there are winners and losers when you stick to your diet, so the score for the competency Originality or whatever you’d like to call it is a 3. There’s nothing new under the sun.
Competency: Originality: Score 3
What- I’ve never taken you aback?
We’re hardly scratching the surface! But we’re driving around the right neighborhood. The actual score isn’t the point. Do you think things through with a deliberate methodology? Do you work hard to take an unbiased and impassioned look? Do you unfold and unpack and lay it all out then put on a staid face? If I wasn’t here right now going through this exercise who would? Is there a strategy for moving forward here or am I just blowing gas? The score has to leave room for future growth. Striving to express an original thought (original for ME) is pretty much what keeps me up at night so it’s important to leave lots of room.
3 is good.
912 god damned pieces of writing. I have 912 on my Facebook notes (yawn now please). That’s where I write. Each piece is “housed” there. That’s where I’m getting the 912 number and it’s reliable enough. I also have a Facebook “group” which is basically just me and where I post each piece, kind of like an assembly line. That’s for a nice cumulative view of things, a global one. No one looks there nor is meant to. So thank you Mark Zuckerberg for all you’ve done- who woulda thunk it?
Remember it’s there when I’m dead.
It’s alive. There’s a word document, well, several LARGE word documents, which although regularly kept up are quite the chore. If I had a maid an initial task would be getting all THAT together as for two years those documents have simply rolled along daily and could do with some cleaning up and “reconciliation”. Anyway, I also have 655 of these pieces of my writing on my blog petearmetta.com and that’s a good place for them to be. One of the main objectives of the blog is to keep them there. They’re also housed in numerous manuscripts, growing more numerous as my hairs go gray. So what about this competency, what would you call it, Organization? How about a 3? No wait a 2. A former mentor of mine once said (in 1994?) that the real test was how fast you could “find something”. Not only can I find something relatively fast if need be, it’s particularly impressive when I can hardly remember half of what I’ve written YAY!
Competency: Organization: Score 2
Like working in the coal fields.
You don’t know the half of it!
You’re still here? Writing writing writing I don’t know I spend most of my time laughing at silly cats! I mean my writing time is my regular time ya know? I don’t differentiate. It’s simply sitting down in front of the machine. It’s about as reliable as breathing it seems. “Organization” and any other measurement hardly makes a hill of beans of difference if I don’t get rooted here , love putting in the time and simply DO it. Can you put a score on living in the moment?
Creativity and competency aren’t the same thing.
Captured in a bottle. I had a story published yesterday last week in the indie Piker Press. They’ve run my stories before and it’s always a pleasure. I have a couple of poems coming up in the UK hard copy Inclement Poetry Magazine. It was supposed to be in April or May but’s been delayed. I have a story upcoming in the New Mule School of Southern Literature (in the fall). I like that outfit they’ve a lot of personality! I have a few book submissions for “real” publishers out there from the first half of the year and I’ll be getting my formal answers on those soon (NO!) as well as smaller submissions, including some audio poetry, which is something I’ll be doing more of. All in all the first half of the year has been respectable enough with a handful of submissions appearing in likable enough publications (Gadfly Mag, Zest Literary Journal, the always lovely Stone Path Review, Best New Poems). I’m doing the requisite WAITING on the others.
I have no idea what they’re doing.
But not waiting on enough. If you don’t play the numbers game there’s no PAY. Submitting regularly and MORE is the only way to win, I mean if it’s a game you’re playing. Although I’ve played, the large manuscripts I worked on sucked the wind out of that game, at least compared directly to one year prior. That being said, the fact I have no “boss” here except my old sophomore self and that I do it all is absolutely achievement enough. So what to call this competency, Submissions?
Competency: Submissions: Score 2
What have you done for me lately?
So far that’s a mean average and overall rating so far of 2.5. Not bad. And being a cut to the chase, practical, sort of keep it simple, black and white fellow I’d say the task at hand is the same as the goals for the future: keep up the productivity, stay up at night racking my brain on what it means to have an original thought, keep my shit together and never cease throwing jello on the wall.
It always comes back to that doesn’t it? The rest is esoteric.
Or is it?
I’d be remiss not to include what seems nowadays the most important competency for any writer to be successful. Well maybe for anyone in this life, no matter what the field. Unless you have connections of course or funnel money into an entity who then in turn throws you a a very soggy bone. If you know me you know it’s a regular source of angst, but that’s another subject, to be expressed another way. I’m talking self-promotion and marketing. In the writing world and for the sake of this PMP I’ll call this competency Bitches & Whores. For Bitches & Whores, although I do a fair-to-midland job of social media via Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin and WordPress etc with a good amount of sweat equity going through the motions on promoting traffic and hits and “likes” on my work and presenting it best I can (and we’re not talking unsavvy), I don’t really have a brand or identity or “theme” going, and I don’t do much to whore my shit out either. If I get read I get read. The rule-of-thumb for today’s writers seems to be to get published by anyone or self-publish for the sake of it, then get yourself out there virtually in any way possible. That be the job. Personally I don’t see much of a concrete or evidence-based return but I could be very wrong. And the whole parade just doesn’t appeal, it’s not the return I’m looking for. I don’t ask anyone to read ANYTHING of mine but I’m here if you need me. This could very well be my demise but as I’ve said and am being way unoriginal, I’m here to write. And I know there are many other things demanding people’s attention.
Competency: Bitches & Whores: Score 4.
This unfortunately (fortunately?) drags my overall rating down to 3, which means “Good” or average. That’s fine for now, I have a long way to go! And a strong desire to just be BETTER. I’m personally accountable ya see?
And how much can one pore over in one sitting?
Pete Armetta (that’s all I am)
July 15, 2013