Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018

notes & things | 7/28/2018

Today, I spent the morning and early afternoon working on a whole bunch of Slender Man poems and think I am getting close to the end. I still have some more research materials coming through ILL, but I have a good number of pieces down.  I'm going to be turning my attention toward a couple other projects, including AUTOMAGIC & another serialized project before the end of summer, so stay tuned for details as that develops.   Plus, there are always the zodiac poems to keep working on.  This year has been super productive on the writing front, so I hope it stays that way as we enter fall craziness (which this year, looks to be even more crazy than others.) It may just be that I've gotten better at prioritizing that little bit of time at the start of the day rather than trying to do it at the end of the day, when all I really want to do is sleep, the worst time for having the sharpness to speak, let alone put words together in any coherent way.  Even today, I was up early and needed a nap after a couple pieces. I may need another this afternoon.

We've again reached the point in summer where I am ready for fall..it's actually been rather mild this week and looks to stay that way for at least a few days.  But I am tired of late buses & traffic & mob crowded streets of slack-jawed tourists that will leave as soon as September hits. I used to say I loved fall but hated the impending winter, but me and winter have reached a detante.I will tolerate cold as long as I can wear cute coats all season and everybody stays mostly inside.  And fall, fall is a delight, at least October if not November, and probably not November this year or for the next few. Or maybe never--November probably being my least favorite month and maybe treacherous terrain all along.  Nevertheless, December perks up, and even January has the shine of a new year on it.

We are in the thick of planning for fall events, including a ballet themed murder mystery and, of course, Beautiful Monstrosities.  I have a chance for a potential title revision to incorporate some of the more interesting things that I've been doing, or at least a raise if not that. (more on this soon, I'll be thinking out loud here about terminology).  Our recent staffing changes have been promising (see my last entry about loss of toxicity.) So we are poised for fall to be so much less of a hostile environment. It means more work temporarily, but it seems worth it.   I am also now writing a bit for the library blog, or at least cross-posting some AofR things there.

I am just about to begin diving into dgp submissions for next year and am excited to see what's been coming our way.  If I start now I can read about a month's work of work as I go and have all responses out by the end of October which is ideal. There is always that balance issue of what is possible going into a year, and I am feeling it this year more than ever, having lost a lot of time and momentum after last November.  I am more cautious about time commitments made in the best of circumstances versus what is possible in the worst of them, so we'll see how that plays out. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

notes & things | 7/21/2018

Image may contain: night and indoor

Another summer weekend, this one beginning with a few too many whiskey & cokes at the swank Chicago Athletic Club Bar--a beautiful building with all sorts of architectural treasures and sort of like drinking in an old library, (so much so that one website recommended it as an excellent place to write.)  It's been rainy and cooler all day, and I've been going back and forth in tandem between working on a library-related piece of writing, a manuscript critique, and some Slender Man pieces. Between what has been going on on the homefront at my dad's house (a new driveway to replace the shared one that will hopefully quell a series of threats and harassment endured by a neighbor) and a purging of some toxicity on other fronts, things are feeling momentarily sensible and sane in a way they have not been in 3-4 years.

In the studio, I am plunging through a few larger author copy orders and getting ready to start reading some submissions for next year, as well as start a slew of late summer releases due around the bend. I've been steadily working toward being more timely getting regular  out, realizing so much has fallen into the hole of the past 6-7 months. The problem lying in that as soon as I get current, the months I spent getting current are now, themselves, behind. I am now working through the spring orders that fell behind while I was working on the winter ones.  And that, of course, means summer ones will fall behind as well, but I'll keep chugging toward some mythical day when I will be caught up, or at least less behind than I am currently. It's actually a good problem to have--too many orders, too much demand for amazing books. But I wish I could get my head above water even just a little. 

The Slender Man anthology has morphed back from two potential anthologies to just a single genrally focused one on folklore, but I am still plugging away on my pieces devoted to the Wisconsin stabbing and hoping to get my own little project (perhaps in cahoots with my sister, who is painting on the regular again ).  This month's zine offering is almost ready to go and will be shipping in a summer bundle soon.   

Sunday, July 15, 2018

notes & things | 7/15/2018

The forecast for the past two days has indicated stormy, but outside of a brief shower and some clouds yesterday, I haven't seen much of it, which means it's been sort of gross and steamy with high humidity and completely sunny at the moment. .  I am back to another free weekend after some Rockford action last weekend that involved some outside bbq fun and a lot of tequila, a sort of belated 4th of July celebration. Summer is half over and I am stil completely content to hide out on the weekends and not leave the apartment, working on some more creative projects and manuscript critiques. Today, I've been combing fashion blogs and instead thinking about fall, which when it's here, I'll be dreading winter and mourning the summer, but such is pretty much every season.

Much is aflutter at work with staff changes that are hopeful and maybe very fortuitous, but which also involve a little more work than summer usually brings, as well as some remodeling and switchouts of spaces.  Lots of planning as well for fall, which brings so much goodness in terms of programming--including our month devoted to women in horror, how-to workshops, art-biz panels and more. We are also in the midst of re-thinking branding for the library--talking points and elevator pitches and such, which seems promising.

A couple weeks ago, I retweeted a call for submissions for an as yet un-homed Slender Man anthology, mentioning my notes for a future project devoted to the Waukesha stabbing incident.  I've not only been working a bit on a series devoted to that, but have agreed to issue the project through dgp, of which the first volume will be out before Halloween. All of this is thanks to the strange universe of Twitter, which I am still acclimating myself to.  This is actually the 2nd collab effort will be doing this year (Jen Rouse's RIDING WITH ANNE SEXTON is due out soon in conjunction with Bone & Ink Press.) So watch for that as well.

July's offering in the subsciption series is a little accordian book of collages,  the GARDEN series, of stange surrealistic little botanicals. We are halfway through the year, but you can still get in on subscription series of bookish lovelies and get everything issued since January and the rest through the end of the year (which includes the Cryptotaxonomy zine, the Poet's Zodiac scrolls, the Grimm anthology project, the Tattoo Cat mini-print, honey machine, how to write a love poem in a time of war, and /SLASH/  (plus the forthcoming LITTLE APOCALYPSE).

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

on creative beginnings

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

I've been thinking the last week or so on the roots of the creative self. What makes us who we are in terms of artists.  When I was 4 or 5, long  before I started kindergarten and linked the alphabet song my dad had taught me with the strange glyphs over the chalkboard and was able to begin to break the code of that thing called "reading", I suppose  I was already a writer.  My favorite thing to do was to scavenge paper, my dad's work cast-offs, the blank end pages of books, and fill them with scribbles that in my head approximated the cursive I would eagerly learn in the second grade. But then, my"stories" were untranslatable to anyone but me. I already was developing a paper and pen fetish, and my favorite x-mas present  in those weird years where memory is still sketchy, was a totebag filled with notepads, folders and spirals, and pens in a bunch of different colors (which then was really only red, green, black, and blue. )

As I started school, I was impatient over pencils and lined newsprint and wanted the smooth roll of ink on college lined sheets. My mother used to read to us at bedtime, from the same few things-mother goose, a children's bible (even though we weren't exactly religious.)  The books were holy, especially before I could read them, and then in a different way after that. The first thing I ever remember being able to "read" was the sign above the Jewel where I waited in the car with my dad for my my mom to shop, that rush of a whole new world coming at me.  I was unstoppable then, reading kids books, that grew longer and more complex. Some of my favorites were the glossy Beatrix Potters from the school library.  A box sets of illustrated classics, not all of which I remember, but War of the Worlds was my favorite. (and probably one of the reasons this is our upcoming year's Book to Art selection..lol..) I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and waited patiently for the newsprint amazingness of the Scholastic Book order every month.

When I wasn't reading, I probably did a lot more daydreaming than writing, but then again, that is somehow still part of the process. I was still fascinated by notebooks and pens and school supplies, and remember occasionally writing out the outlines of these elaborite gothic family trees and stories well  into adulthood. While I bucked a little at learning grammar rules, which I must have picked up intuitively somehow later on, I was good at spelling, a spelling bee champ, and eventually really good at regurgitating facts back out on essay tests while everyone else in classes was freaking out.  My reading tastes got more complex, but age 10,  my aunt was already delivering grocery sacks full of horror novels she'd bought and read already, ostensibly for my dad, but I usually got to them first.  It was then, in a move,  I uncovered a copy of Amityville Horrror and spent the first night in our new house reading it cover to cover.    (I was already well versed in the movie, my fascination with scary movies happening much, much earlier around the time I was learning to read.)

In junior high, I set off to turn these gothic stories into a young authors book contest attempt, but caved under pressure and turned in a children's counting book instead.It was probably my first experience with caving under a deadline. It would be another year before I started writing poems, probably since I barely knew, outside of Shel Silverstein, that poems were actually an option--something that was still written by people and not some dusty anachronistic form. I tried--wrote all sorts of horrible rhyming verse in the next couple of years, but still felt like a dusty, untouchable thing.  Would be, for a good long time after--even though I was still doing writer things--writing passionate edittorials about dolphins and animal rights in the school paper, entering and winning esssay contests rather easily, perfecting my 5 paragraph composition form. These were things that came easily--probably all those horror novels teaching me how to write without me really trying--the very best argument for learning to write by reading.

Poetry was slippery--and not something I would feel I had a hand on for many years after (and sometimes not even now.)  But I tried, especially after I turned my attention back to books where it always should have been. I went full-tilt the summer between my freshman and softmore year on submitting work to the kinds of places in the back of Writer's Digest, checked out from the public library, or on occasion, bought with whatever money I'd scraped together from the mall's single bookstore. There was more writing--lit class papers, workshop poems & stories, film reviews for the college paper., but I was splitting attention between lit and theatre for a bit there, so I didn't come back full-force til my final undergrad year. I was getting better, but it  would still be a couple years til I was anything like good at it. But I committed in some way in those years, pursued my MA in Lit, came out of that writing better than ever.  It would still be a couple years before regular publications, before chapbooks and books, before applying to an MFA, but the seeds were growing even then.