Much of my attention this fall has been on Library and Aesthetics of Research related things, which have really started to take off. It's a project that has spread from merely a wall exhibit on the first floor to vending machines. the zine exchange, and all sorts of other adventures (the Easter Egg Art Hunt, ARTCACHE, the Library Sketchbook Project, How-To Workshops, The Little Indie Press Festival, and other events. ) Its finally brought a little bit of the creativity and fun I have in my outside-of-work life into my work-life and it's really nice . There's no longer such a weird disconnect between the two of them. Art work vs. grunt work. I still do all the boring library tasks I've always done like invoices and reserve processing, but we get just a little bit of shenanigans thrown in. This weekend's Little Indie Press event was really amazing, to see so much happening in all corners of the print word--book arts, illustrators, comics, zines. We've got a couple more endeavors planned out for this semester and a whole slew of them lined up for next semester, so stay tuned....
It's been a weekend bound to the library, but nonetheless a productive one, albeit on work-related tasks and Aesthetics plotting (also our horror movie trivia night questions for next Friday as well as finalizations on the Indie Press Festival coming up over the weekend. )
But the most fortuitous thing is that I managed this week, after a couple months of avoiding it entirely, to finish up the strange machine series, which means I am closer than ever to finishing the apocalypse book. I kept my word about forcing myself back into the words once November rolled around, and I kept at it, even if it meant getting something down even when I was half asleep. There is still a bit of polishing and ordering to do, but otherwise, the zine project release is nigh and heading toward layout, as is the completion of the longer book as soon as I finish up the zombie girl poems (these are infinitely easier to write since they are not so much historical and researched based as strange machine.) If I keep going I may finish it before the holidays, which would make up for my dragging my feet though most of the summer and early autumn. Hell dragging my feet for the last couple of years. Lately, the books seem to come like that, slowly, then all at once.
Then of course there are the other things I am dragging my feet on completing--the blonde joke series, the Dali inspired pieces, the hotel project I have all but abandoned since last winter. But I am comforted by the fact that there are to many projects, too many directions, rather than a slow trickle of them. At least I can move back and forth when I get stuck, the importance is to keep moving.
I realized a week ago that it had been 15 years since I interviewed for the library job to the day. In a couple, it will be the anniversary of accepting the job (absolutely terrified that I couldn't pull it off--get an apartment, move all my stuff, afford to even move to after making so little at the previous job.) I was off Friday and couldn't go to the 15 year Service Luncheon, but it happened nonetheless, and while apparently I have, in fact, been here that long, it certainly doesn't feel like a second more than 5. (I think I fell into a hole some of those years..) I just now realized that today is the also the 10 year anniversary of my first book being accepted. The thing I thought would never happen and then somehow did. The other books have been easier to get published, and most of them easier to write and pull together, so at least there can be something said for time and experience, even if neither of those things seem at all logical.
Yesterday was one of those really, truly perfect fall days, not because it was sunny or mild, but really because it was it was rainy and cool and the trees in Grant park were in full color and just about to drop, and what had already fallen was littering the sidewalk picturesquely. I was downtown early in the morning for Parent's Weekend mask workshop, which followed a rather successful Wabash Arts Corridor Crawl, where we unveiled the Creepy Curiosities, exhibit and the attendant installation, as well as the entirety of my unusual creatures series and some similarly themed dgp work. What delights me so much about it I think is it's prettiness and, at the same time, it's darkness. But I feel the pull toward sleep that this season dictates, so I came home and slept away the afternoon, then got up and caught up on Vampire Diaries cheesiness.
It was a good week, filled with getting that on the walls and the amazing delight of my full-page interview on dgp in The American Book Review. I'm anxious about all the things I am usually anxious about--money, time, not falling behind, but am still saying afloat. The words are still elusive, but I'm giving myself a pass until November since I am busy with other things. Halloween is next weekend, and while I don't have any definitive costume plans, I do have one blank paper mask saved from yesterday that may wind up useful.
This Friday, the last of the unusual creatures collages made from old family catalog cards will be going up on the walls for the Creepy Curiosities exhibit, along with the work of dgp poets, some photography, and an interactive exhibit of creepy odditiies. There will also be some collectible cards in the small works vending machines. We'll be hosting a little informal opening on the 1st Floor with some Halloweenish snacks during the Wabash Arts Corridor Crawl , so you should stop by...
Had to work on some questions today for a class that are studying my James Franco poems and felt a little of the writing spark starting to return. Mostly, I am hella-busy, with makes me anxious with all the not-writing happening. Art seems easier and faster and not as much of a commitment when I'm swimming through a sea of press-related doings (layouts, orders, cover designs, manuscript reading) AND library-related tasks (the general fall reserves rush, performance evals, and Aesthetics planning/happenings.) But talking about things I've written, while sometimes they feel very far away helps. Re-reading and remembering I'm actually a writer helps (sometimes, I swear I forget or seem to want to forget). Remembering the WHY and the HOW helps too, especially when I'm stuck mid-project and wanting to bail.
One of the questions they asked me was about being the creative misfit in a family of non-artists (actually both me and my sister are) and I started thinking about my mother and her painting all those porcelain or bisque figures when I was a kid. Large white persian cats. Clowns, Victorian ladies. (Figures and statues that many of my relatives and my mom's friends still have, though I actually don't think any of them given to me survived past adolescence without getting busted. I'm not even sure my mom has any of them anymore. ) Both me and my sister begging to paint with her (usually to no avail--the supplies were sort of pricey to be wasted on kid antics.) She would paint things FOR us though, walking us through the OFF THE WALL store picking out the things we wanted. For our bedrooms. For her frends, for various relatives. I remember how they smelled, the tiny colorful smooth jars. . Both the paints and the stinky varnish you put on them afterwards.
Of course this was prior to her going back to work when I was 11 or so, when she mostly babysat other people's kids for extra money while my dad worked, but was home all the time and aside from keeping an eye on the kids and making lunches, could do as she pleased. . Once my dad was laid off and she went back to work, the painting mostly stopped and she'd arrive home exhausted, fall asleep in her chair with the tv on. I never made the correlation til just now, but it makes sense.
As I grew up, that was perhaps the thing I feared without knowing that that was what I was really afraid of. How much the things you have to do take away from the things you love to do. I've got it relatively good in that my day-job demands outside of time are lighter than hers, I'm only taking care of myself, not a husband and two kids, and and I fight like hell to make both things happen, but it's never easy.
But I do find that talking again about writing makes me want to do it. Thinking about it. Being immersed in it.
A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several book, chapbook and zine projects, including major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015), the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013), and girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Her work has appeared most recently in Split Lip Review, Hound, and Whiskey Island. She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio and spends much of her time writing, making papery things, and curating a chapbook series devoted to women authors. Her next full-length collection, salvage,
is due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2016.