Monday, November 25, 2019

over and under the transom

Earlier, I was sending off a submission of the newest full-length project  (to a press I already love to work with and happens to have an open reading period happening this month.) and I was thinking about how strange and momentous the process of sort of thunking that book over the transom really is. How it's almost like sending your child off to kindegarten, but a kindegarten they may very well be send home from with a "no thanks."

I've been extraordinarily lucky that my books, despite the endeavor of landing that first one which took a little longer, have found really amazing homes without too much herculean effort.  And still, there's a bit of self doubt everytime a compile a book.  Sure, the individual poems do well, even the smaller chap projects that may make up the book are generally well recieved (I usually issue these on my own to sell online, give away at readings, trade with other authors  and send out through the Books & Objects Series, and people seem to get excited about them. )  On one hand, I could say I've gotten very good at compiling a manuscript, having done it many times.  On the other hand, I could say that I sometimes still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  And even though I often help other writers compile their books, it's always easier with that distance.  It's not MY work, but someone else's.  Someone else's kindergartener trotting off to the bus stop.

Every once in while, I'll read someone else's pointers on compiling books, on submitting, on publishing. I start to get nervous, becuase there are sometimes things I never even would have thought of doing, approaches that didn't occur to me. Lately, my books are thematically strung together, but not really "projects" in the literal sense. (girl show was a project book, as was the shared properties of water and stars)  but I would consider the others more like collections that constellate around similar themes and concerns, particularly the last couple and the ones I'm in the throes of now. I feel like the approaches to compilation are different, and even more so the more disparate the poems and the threads that bind them together.  That first book is always hard, yo, especially since you are usually trying to figure out what sort of book you even want to write.

Last week, I was unpacking a stack of my own  books I'd brought home from the studio, and they were so strange to me..that I have written this many books, let alone found someone to publish them, is still a little surreal sometimes. In some cases they were written over many years, in some, barely any time at all, but they seem at times massive and unruly, though I'm pretty sure even my longest book taps out considerably before 100 pages.  I couldn't imagine what one would do with a novel.

So I polish the cheeks and send my little feed manuscript off into the world. It's an odd little bird, and feels extra vulnerable, given the subject matter (mothers and daughters, food issues and body image).  It begins with the line "Every so often, the snake eats the spider.  The spider eats the fly." and ends with a bunch of stolen dead birds in a fridge.   In other words, it pretty much encompasses my aesthetic to a tee.

No comments: