Keep Your Eyes on the Brass Ring

Watch for the Brass Ring:

A 5-Step Plan for the New Year

by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Copyright 2013. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All Rights Reserved.
As my sister, Patti,  would attest, I have an opinion on everything.  She would say to this, “YOU are not kidding!” I say this with a smile and a little chuckle – because I have an enormous sense of humor on most things. 


Lynda Lambert with her First Prize Winner 
at an art exhibition in 2012

Keep your EYES on YOUR PRIZE!


I read on a Writer’s Discussion Group recently  about  publishing.

I realized how fortunate I have been for the past 20 plus years of publications of my poetry, articles, and book. Maybe my experiences have been different due to my profession in art and literature. I do not know.  I can offer some advice here through my own experiences. I can let you know what has worked for me in my career. Some of it might work for you. 

My own career has been as an arts administrator ( executive director of a museum and community arts center ) and a tenured college professor of Fine Arts and Humanities.   Both of these occupations provided many opportunities to flourish in my field of fine arts and literature.

For both positions,   publishing of our work is essential over our whole career. Promotions are based in part on visibility in the community and in our field.  Published works in literature and exhibitions in fine art set a benchmark; an example to our students; credibility in our field; and tenure and promotions in the academic institutions.

There is no question about it at all; if we teach a subject, we are experts in that field and publication of work is an enormous part of who we are. Can you even imagine an English professor who does not publish? An Art professor who is not in major exhibitions in museums and galleries?  Each has to provide a detailed list of “Professional Achievements” every year. That is what keeps the discipline alive and thriving;  no one reaches a goal and sits down to rest with the laurel wreath on her head. 

My poetry is published several times a year in various publications.  Those come about because I send  them out to the publications, usually. It has never been a struggle, but has just happened naturally as I worked at developing possibilities for them. Rejections are our normal condition and the sooner we get used to it the better. Move on! You can decide how many times you will send out a piece of work every month. That is in your control. Getting it out for consideration is totally in your control  No one but you can decide how many poems you’ll send out this month. But, just do it and wait for your reply to come back from the publication.

One way my works has been published is because I have been active over the past 20 years in giving conference presentations.  By doing this your work is presented by YOU to an audience who has come to the conference and has an interest in the topic you are presenting. This also opens doors for your work to be published.  Typically, it will be selected by someone at the conference who is working on a book, or by the conference coordinator who is compiling a book on a particular topic.  After your presentation, you are contacted by the editor and asked to be included in his/her book. I have never sought out these opportunities, but they have come to me because I was “out there” with my colleagues, discussing my work and research and was presenting on it.

When my  book  ( Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage ) was published  it was because the publisher  had met me through a mutual interest.  The publisher lived and worked in Washington state; but her mother lived in Pittsburgh, PA. The mother had read about me in a newspaper, sent it on to her daughter in Washington, and the rest is history.  They edited my book, did all the design work, did all the business details on it, and sent me the drafts several times as it progressed.  It was not difficult at all, and the book arrived in time for an enormous art opening that I was having to celebrate 10 years of my work in Austria. I was able to have that opening of the exhibition, be the book-signing launch of the book.  It was an international event and very exciting. My book is no longer in print, but is still available through amazon.  And, occasionally, I have checked on it, and found it for sale in several other countries and at prices that knocked my socks off. I wonder, how in the world did my book get to India, or other such countries? It was published by a small press that focuses on a very narrow audience.

( I received  personal letters from the President of Austria; President Bush; and a number of Austrian ambassadors and officials who complimented me on the book and praised me for “being a good will ambassador for Austria. )

When I read of the struggles of getting published, it is surprising to me because that has not been my experience. All of the professors I work with have had books published, give presentations at conferences, etc. It is just part of our job to do this.  It is really an extension of our teaching, and our lectures. It comes naturally as we work at our discipline every day. 

My advice would be to get your work out before an audience who is focused on what you are doing.  There are conferences in every discipline there is, and that is your target audience. There you will meet others in your field, have great conversations with others who are lecturing and publishing, and make the contacts that can get your work published.

Since this is the first week of the new year, it might be a good idea to write out a road map from where you are, and where you want to be at the end of this year. Then put in all the steps and goals you have to reach along the way. Put dates on them, and one by one start working towards each step that comes next.

The way I work towards what I want to achieve is this:

1.  Write a 5 year plan of goals- be specific and write out exactly what you want to achieve in the next five years. This is where you lay down the PICTURE of your PRIZE. 

What is YOUR BRASS RING:?

What is it you want to GET at the end of your 5 year journey? THINK BIG.  What you envision, is what you’ll be working towards for the next five years.

2.  Break the five years down into 5 one-year plans of goals. What is the big picture for each of your five years? Be very specific and write it all out.


3. Write out 12 plans;  one for each month in the first year of your 5 year journey. It is good to begin working on this near the end of the year, or at the very beginning of the new year.  This is the beginning of your journey. You are laying down 12 little stepping stones that will take you through your first year. Keep it simple – one little step at a time. With your text outline, also write out your budget. 

What do you need to allot for your goals here? You’ll need postage most likely; envelopes; paper. If you are an artist, you need materials to make your art. Put these things in your monthly budget.

          Your budget will be an important part of this entire 5-year plan.

Write out what you need to do and how much money you’ll need to do it.

4.  You now have a good road map to follow to get to your end goals in the 5 year plan you have written down.

5.  You will make adjustments in your plans as you go. Some of the monthly goals will be met on time; some will be delayed and can be carried over to the next month, etc.

Like any good budget and  road map, you make adjustments as you go, but you keep your eyes on the prize at the end of the road. You will be amazed at where you can go, once you have a concrete plan to get somewhere.  One friend recently told me “Keep your eyes on the brass ring.”

Whatever it is, stay focused on that prize.

If you are feeling lost at sea, maybe it is because you have not thought out your plan carefully.

Where do you want to be? and How will you get there? Begin writing!

It is good to keep your plan before you every day.

Read it over all the time. 

Burn it into your consciousness.

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