Back to the Blog // Back to Reality

I'm going to begin my blog again as a companion to the writing and submitting work I am kind-of sort-of doing right now  ... in an effort to move me out of the kind-of sort-of zone and more solidly into the definitely-and-making-lots-of-progress zone.  Because my writing life is some kind of pie chart or line graph, obv.

In January I mapped out a plan for revising the first act of my verse play and moving -- finally -- into Act II. That original map has itself been revised over the past few weeks. This is a result of that "kind-of sort-of" progress: painstakingly slow, but happening, nonetheless. I'm adding new scenes about five lines at a time (i.e. five lines per day, when those days of writing occur). It's a rather pathetic pace, I know, but at this point I'm encouraged that I have a pace. 

Frankly, sometimes I'm amazed that I have a pulse, let alone a pace.

Work feels less intrusive to my writing time than it did last semester. I wrote so seldomly; teaching one class extra over the course of a semester -- and only a credit's-worth extra, because it was a team-taught class -- still kicked my ass. It was a fairly wonderful and transformative teaching experience -- an honors seminar on Gender, Bodies, and Identity -- but it didn't help me generate work, that's for sure. 

I didn't submit much work over last semester either. Not writing new poems will do that for you -- you can't submit work if you don't have work to submit. 

Actually, that's not exactly true. I have a couple of new poems. See, over the summer I had some interest from a small independent publisher in my full-length manuscript. He requested that I write more "sow" poems, to make the first section of the MS different from my chapbook, and that I think of a different title for the MS (because he felt that Fabulous Beast: The Sow and Fabulous Beast were too close and would create confusion with readers). 

Good news, right? I mean, someone actually wanted to publish my book! And this coming off of that rejection in the spring that laid me kinda low with its criticism (that I asked for, just to be clear). 

The request for the new title and the additional sow poems made me really, really apprehensive, however. It was really difficult to move myself out of the play and back into those sow poems. I tried to be a good sport, though, and diligently made attempts to create new parts of that narrative -- to fill in the gaps. My fears -- that I'd be writing the same exact poems over again, but in a slightly altered voice -- were valid: I threw away a handful of lame/uninspired attempts where I was just repeating myself unnecessarily. But I came through the fall with about four new poems to add to the fable -- not TOO shabby, but no great shakes, either. 

I spent January editing them a little -- shared them with A.P. and S.M. in a little workshop, received some helpful feedback -- and placed them within the MS. I was feeling optimistic about the publication in the book, more than I had been in months. I even started looking for artwork for the cover -- I have a definite idea that the cover should be closely associated with folk art or reminiscent of folk art, since this MS is a commentary on traditional literature like folk tales, fairy tales, myths, and fables.

And then I received a message from the publisher that he was closing down his press.

So . . . if I'm looking for silver linings, I can say that at least now I have more poems and a more fully-developed (and hopefully stronger) manuscript. Also, I won't have to change the title of the MS -- unless another publisher has similar reservations. But . . .  damnit. I practically pep-talked myself into writing those new poems, and that time could have been spent on my play, which AS ANY REGULAR READER OF THIS BLOG KNOWS has taken nearly a decade to write. Also, in those autumn months there were a slew of book contests and open reading submission periods to which I could have submitted this MS, but I didn't because I felt I should be loyal to the publisher who showed an active interest in my work. So missed opportunities for both writing and submissions.

I'm not actually holding any of this against the publisher -- I understand how much work a press takes to run (I've worked on enough publications to know this) and it's really difficult to balance having a life and maintaining a press, especially if you have to work a full-time job in addition to running your company. HOWEVER. Disappointment all the same, you know? I feel like fate is kind of kicking me in the ass. Or maybe this is hubris -- maybe I was thinking a little too much of myself and my MS and its place in the world?

So now I'm back to where I was before, but definitely more deflated. I mean, I've already submitted the MS to a couple of places since I received the news, but it feels . . . I don't know. Half-hearted and obligatory? It's not that I'm unenthusiastic about the presses I just submitted to . . . it's that the odds seem stacked against me. 

Not that they were in my favor six months ago. Maybe it's just the winter doldrums. Currently, we're surrounded by more snow, and I just spent the past 24 hours locked away in my house with my children. There's a two hour delay this morning, too. MY KIDS LOVE ME RIGHT NOW. I AM IN NO WAY CRANKY AND OUT OF SORTS.


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