One Writer’s To-Do List: Guest post by Peggy Shumaker

This list will let you know why my husband’s fond of asking me, “What part of retirement don’t you understand?”

As you’ll see, my writing life is lively, productive, challenging. I’m grateful for every day. What’s on your list?

To Do

–Check in with Anne Coray about production progress on A Measure’s Hush, the 2011 Boreal Book. (Artwork secured for cover, design happening now, release date set.)

–Email Nicole Stellon-O’Donnell about her progress on getting reproductions of documents and photographs that will accompany her poems in the 2012 Boreal Book, tentatively titled Steam Laundry.

–Love Joe. Laugh with Joe.

–Write blurb for Vivian Faith Prescott’s book The Hide of My Tongue.

–Tell everyone I know about Kes Woodward’s opening from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on October 1 at Well Street Gallery in Fairbanks. He’s painting like a madman to fill both exhibition spaces.

–Lunch with mathematician John Gimbel.

–Text grandkids, nieces, nephews. Call older relatives.

–Prepare for Theresa Bakker to record me reading another section of Gnawed Bones.

–Ask Wanda Chin about designing a cover for the CD version of Gnawed Bones.

–Prepare reading and craft talk for UAF Midnight Sun Visiting Writers Series (with John Morgan).

–Work on the in-class exercises I wrote along with my Osher Life Long Learning Students. Do the homework (a road story). Prepare our next class.

–Read manuscripts by Margaret Baker, Erin Hollowell, Heather Weber, Christina Collins, Katrina Hays, Katie Eberhart. Respond to the writers.

–Pick up tickets for the concert–Zuill Bailey performing the Bach Cello Suites.

–Get groceries. Make dinner.

–Respond to mailings & emails from three MFA students.

–Love Joe. Laugh with Joe.

–Revise and polish drafts of poems started in this July’s Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Creative Writing Class.

–Read Let the Great World Spin, so I can discuss it with Kes, who says this is his favorite book since Snow.

–Prepare manuscripts for submission to journals.

–Check in with Kate Gale and Mark Cull at Red Hen Press. Place Boreal Books ad in their fundraising brochure. Arrange meeting in Napa Valley in late Oct.

–Email Frank Soos and Margo Klass. When are they coming home?

–Email James Engelhardt at Prairie Schooner about plans for this year’s Prairie Schooner Book Prize competitions.

–Write syllabus for short course for Kachemak Bay Campus visit next March.

–Get new notebooks and pen refills at If Only, a Fine Store. Check in with Rebecca Morse about her writing and with Georjean Seeliger about her art.

–Stock up on Fireweed Honey and Yukon Gold potatoes from the Farmers’ Market.

–Remind Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Creative Writing Class participants about our reading Oct. 2 at Bear Gallery. Double check the details with Carey Seward at Fairbanks Arts Association.

–Go to dentist.

–Make airline reservations for upcoming travel:
to Seattle, Woodway, Whidbey Island
to Tucson (Palo Verde High School 40th Reunion)
back to Alaska–Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards (Fairbanks)
to Napa Valley
to NonfictioNow (Iowa City)
to Hamline University (Minneapolis)
to University of Arizona Poetry Center 50th Anniversary event (Tucson)
to Chandler AZ

That takes us up through November.

–Thaw halibut. Make potato-leek-fennel soup.

–Write thank you notes to a whole list of people, including Bill Kloefkorn, who sent an inscribed copy of In a House Made of Time, his new collaboration with David Lee. Congratulate Bill on his amazing new and selected,Swallowing the Soap.

–Confer by email with Carol Swartz about possible faculty for next summer’s Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference.

–Go to post office, bank, pharmacy, auto shop.

–Do laundry. Do dishes. Answer correspondence, both print and email. (These never end.)

–Update website. (This requires constant vigilance.)

–Organize recycling. Make a trip to the Rescue Mission Recycling Center.

–Check Facebook. (Dangerous!)

–Respond to fundraising appeals.

–Remind writers about the Farthest North Reading–Alaskan Writers at NonfictioNow (in Iowa City in Nov.)

–Send belated birthday greetings to all the folks whose birthdays I missed this crazy busy summer.

–Get belated wedding gift.

–Ride my bike while I still can. Enjoy the sunshine.

–Love Joe. Laugh with Joe.

–Write something new.

–Write 49 Writers guest post.

Featured guest author Peggy Shumaker’s new book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. She’s currently working on a manuscript of poems set in Costa Rica. Peggy lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, and travels widely. Professor emerita at University of Alaska Fairbanks, she teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop and at many writing conferences and festivals. Please visit her website at

4 thoughts on “One Writer’s To-Do List: Guest post by Peggy Shumaker”

  1. I think you understand retirement perfectly – it is time to make sure you are doing something you love all the time, which it looks like you are!

  2. And I thought *my* to-do list was a long one! I had to sit down and rest awhile after reading yours, Peggy.


    P.S. Please say "hi" to Frank Soos for me if and when you see him

  3. @Ali–you're absolutely right!
    @David–sorry to wear you out! Frank and Margo head home the first week in Oct. I'll pass along your hello.
    @Louise–it's the life I choose. I'm lucky and grateful to have it.

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