Rearranging as Revision (in Writing, in Life)
Still working on that damn sonnet. I suspect I'm the last person who should be writing in the sonnet form, simply because I lose track of my arguments so damn quickly. Also, I stop caring about making the argument. That combination isn't great for someone working in a form that is, quite often, rhetorical.
Nor is it good for someone who is about to teach rhetoric in the fall.
Anyway, as more proof that I'm the world's slowest writer, I've spent each of my mornings this week reworking the sonnet at a rate of two lines per day. It's not great nor is it extremely productive, but at least it's consistent writing practice.
I was very close to shutting everything down this summer -- no more blog, no more submissions, no more participation in the shit-show that is publishing in the U.S. (Not that I have any kind of international publication chances; it's just that publishing here seems fraught with more nonsense than in other countries.) I'm not particularly convinced that I won't shut everything down, eventually, and just back away and try to forget the aspirations I've had for three of my four decades -- but something has kept me involved/in the game so far. Maybe it's sheer stubbornness. Maybe it's guilt -- after all, speaking of decades, I just concluded ten plus years of trying to get to this point in my academic career, where I could back off the administrative/service stuff and concentrate on my writing.
|My little gentleman. Also, the BMX bike A. restored.|
Either way, this week I did something I've been avoiding for, oh, what feels like forever but realistically has probably been about three years. I reordered my manuscript for Fabulous Beast -- out of curiosity and also as a last-ditch attempt to see if I can generate any real interest in this book.
One of the publishers I was looking at/researching put a note in their submission guidelines that poems from the MS may have been published in chapbooks, but they didn't want for the chapbook itself to be a section of the MS. That would eliminate Fabulous Beast's original ordering -- the first section of the full-length is essentially my HGP chap, plus a few additional poems. I didn't reorder the manuscript simply to meet the publisher's criteria -- but the criteria made me consider the reasons behind the criteria, and then those reasons made me think about my own -- again, I'll stay it -- stubbornness when it comes to this manuscript, and while I'm so fucking reluctant to "reenter" the world of this book and generate new poems for each of the series, I thought that perhaps the sections of the book that separate fable, fairy tale, and myth detract from the individual poems more than help them, and that maybe I could help the reader better understand how to read the poems if they were ordered differently.
That last sentence is ridiculously, ridiculously long.
ANYWAY I'm too close to the manuscript to really tell if the reordering has made a good and important difference in how the poems will be received, but I *think* the reordering is interesting and may actually help the reader better, well, like the book. In the new order, my hope is that no single series will dominate the manuscript and that the connections between the series will become more evident to the reader.
First book awards and open reading periods will begin accepting entries again in the fall; I anticipate I'll send out this version for one more year (if I can afford it) and then, if nothing happens, I will stop attempting to make this book become a thing in the world. Really. I think I've reached the point where enough is enough is enough.
Also, everyone who could possibly help me with child-watching was on vacation this week, so no writing group for me! Work on my play will begin again on Monday.
What I've been reading: The Prodigal by Derek Walcott, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (I use his essay of the same title in one of my classes and thought I'd check out the full-length), and Drowning in Sand by J. Marc Harding.
What I've been watching: Mad Men, because A. and I are really late to the game. Hour-long sessions in front of the TV really push the boundaries of what's possible (between wrangling the kids into pajamas and bed and then trying to get sleep ourselves), but it's worth it so far.
What I've been doing when I'm not reading or watching: Rearranging furniture in my house (a different kind of revision!). Cleaning. Taking the kids to the beach. And then cleaning again after we track all that sand into the house.