Sunday, July 31, 2022

cover sneak peak | automagic


This spooky little baby is coming in October in just a slightly little more luxe hardcover version.  Its full of victorian spiritualism, serial killers, all manner of ghosties and will be here just in time for Halloween, so keep an eye out for more details....

memoir in bone & ink #5 | video poem series


see more here...

Friday, July 29, 2022

wallflowers and writers

One of my summertime indulgences has been rewatching both seasons of Bridgerton, though I've already watched season 1 at least twice.  It's a fun sort of frothy-Austenesque entertainment that is highly rewarding but not exactly serious. Ie, it doesn't require much thought or investment (like something like Westworld for example.).  I caught wind on facebook that they are just beginning to film season 3.  I did a quick look to see what was up next according to the (rather terribly written) books and it looks like we will finally be getting the Penelope romance, whose constantly friend-zoned adoration of one of the Bridgerton heirs has been happening since the beginning. I've found where the books fail, the show's direction and cast more than makes up for it. 

Penelope, of course, is one of the chief reasons Bridgerton is interesting at all--Lady Whistledown and her sharp pen, aka the Gossip Girl of the early 19th century.  In fact the emotional crux of the last episode of season 2 was not that Kanthony finally got to get together, but the dramatic betrayal and dissolution of Eloise and Pen's friendship. But I think all of us writers like Penelope, for her awkward wall-flowering and quick wit. 

Writers are, if anything, always outsiders. It's what makes us good writers.  The ability to notice. While others find themselves steeping whatever moment they happen to be living, the writer writes from a step away, a step back. Others rarely take the time to observe the way writers do, our little minds always clicking away. We probably spend much less time awash in sensation than calmly laying out in our minds how to explain it. 

And perhaps also piques my particular interest because, obviously, Pen is also an outsider, both in her family where she is far more intelligent than her sisters (though maybe not her mother) and as fat girl in a thin world (it's a skinny cast, and hell, historically half of the women were likely wasting and  tubercular).  It's not just her writing that keeps her always on the outside of the dance floor looking in. And in fact, it may be that outsiderness that MAKES her a writer at all. Substitute marginalized, poor, or just depressed and you get most writers in history. . I'm curious to see where her rage at the end of last season (the fallout with Eloise, her dismissal (again) by Collin.) takes her next season...

Monday, July 25, 2022

memoir in bone & ink #4| videopoem series


persephone speaks

As I round the bend on the GRANATA project, I find myself debating the book's point-of-view.  I initially fully intended to use first person, and the first 10 or so poems are written with an "I" narrative.  Slowly, it began to slip, and my much favored "you" slipped in--the second person I favor so often over anything else these past years, not so much a conscious decision, but a go-to. I like the second person since the poems have a persona-like poem feel without actually taking on the limited persona of the "I" voice. Lately, the daily poems are "you" driven, and if they stay that way, I will probably just give over to the majority, partly because obviously I want them that way, right?.  

Guidelines for the heroic/heroinic epic I intend would probably have me doing third person.  Odysseus, for example does not tell his own story, but relies on Homer to do it for him. Maybe second person is a good compromise here, and something I reach for in my poetic bag of tricks far more often than the third or first person.  If I do use first, it's far more often a "we" rather an "I."

In ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MONSTER, I go back and forth.  The series of "artist statements" is first person singular but "extinction event" is first person plural. Mr. Potter poems are a little bit of everything, as is "pelt" where I go back and forth between "you" and "she, and probably break some sort of cardinal rule about persistent p-o-v, but it felt right somehow, so I kept it. That series is about the slipperiness of identity and self between two women, so what is more slippery than p-o-v.?

GRANATA, is of course, an epic, so it demands I settle on one or other I suppose. I have been trying to listen daily to what the poems want to tell me, and by extension to what Persephone herself wants to tell me, so we will see how that plays out. In other news, I was working on something else entirely in the visual arena and created the above collage--I didn't plan for visual work to accompany these pieces, but that may also be a surprise development. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

spotlights, stage managers, and the kittens I will no longer be herding....

When I was in college, I did a lot of backstage work, including stage managing for both student and faculty-directed productions.  On one hand, I preferred to just work tech, which gave me a social outlet and a sense of involvement in making something happen, especially since my only friends in college were other theater department denizens. I was really good with light boards, costumes, even dangerously high spotlight handling. I took a class devoted to stage management, did really well, and the next thing I knew was sort of in demand for it, including a community show that, while fun, was also sort of a nightmare--the sort of bad dream where you are running lights and sounds and going off cues that aren't happening because no one knows their lines. (Had I seen that as a precursor to the work world, I might have realized a lot of things about my future much earlier. )

But the department productions, both student and faculty had their shit together in a way that made it much easier and yet, I was sort of miserable.  In fact, it made me feel like there was no room for mistakes, which kind of made me crazy. One night after dimming lights a second too soon at the end of a musical number, I cried in the office of our tech advisor, to which his response was "Don't worry, it's not brain surgery, no one died."  It was sweet, but I felt like someone had. And I wasn't entirely convinced he meant it. If you'd asked me, I would have said I loved it. Took every opportunity that came my way, mostly unpaid outside of a couple tech jobs that paid. Bouts of social anxiety made things difficult.  I was always sick. Like monthly. I was stressed, except in those brief windows I wasn't working on a show. I missed my grandfather's funeral in Wisconsin because he had the audacity to die during tech week. I did well in my classes but probably not as well as I could have. The show must go on. It was a lot like herding kittens, something I also dreamed (then and now) about a lot. 

Once I graduated, I put my theater days behind me, since it was already dawning on me that group efforts are not my cup of tea. I preferred the more solitary aspects of poetry far more. Ditto on teaching, which didn't seem to mesh well with all that anxiety.  Even after I started the lit zine and the press, these still felt like solitary things....the roles were clearly defined..the writers did their thing, I did my thing, and together, we made something great happen.  While some things were collaborative--cover designs, the layout process--we had carefully defined roles. And granted there are a lot of moving pieces, to just to be a writer, the work of it, of creating it, of promoting it. And the press as well, the world of layouts and production and promotion. It is a job, jobs plural, even when I had another job paying the bills. 

I am still probably a good project manager, and the press and my own work have been long-term projects that I enjoy placing my managerial efforts on. My work at the library for years  in the beginning involved little effort besides some daily paperwork and book processing, some supervision of evening student workers.  Slowly, more was added, not only because of people leaving, though that was part of it, but also because I took on a lot that was additional, things I wanted to do--things I wanted to happen.  And again, I am a good project manager, so they were mostly successful, and even when not successful, rewarding and worthwhile. Soon, people seemed to realize that I was good at certain things and offered me more opportunities.  Then sometimes, there was no offering, just expectations that far exceeded both my available bandwidth and pay grade. I took on more in the hope that it would be rewarded with more pay and a better title. It sounds egotistical to say I may have been too good at project management for my own good, but I think I kind of was.  

We all have limited mental energy. I found when I turned on a faucet in one part of the house, the water dried up in another. I'd spend weeks embroiled in projects and meanwhile the pipes failed upstairs.. It was an endless back and forth. There was so much oversight--general library things like managing ILL but also programming, social media, heading committees, launching exhibits. I laughed and told myself I was having fun, because I was.  Kind of, but I also think it was killing me. I would consider the time I had for things, which was limited, of course, and could always make time. But I couldn't create bandwidth from nothing Time is nothing if you just don't have the brain space.  I  would try to explain this to people, but they usually would not listen. What I wanted was not less work, but less overseeing and managing things.  I needed not every faucet in the house (departmental work, programming, the press, my writing)  trying to run at once. But then again, I had a tendency of wanting to take things over to get the results I wanted. It's also hard when you are a control freak. In a number of cases I did it to myself entirely. 

While I still have a lot of work to do and occasionally work long hours, there is one thing I am reveling in about this new freelance life.  My only project-oriented endeavors are my own art and writing and the press / press/shop.  The other ways I make money, the writing and lesson assignments, I do them and am done. There is no keeping track of a million pieces. I research, I draft, I finalize, I submit. Repeat. I do my part and move on my merry way. I deal daily with the content managers and editors who keep the machine whirring, who sometimes send things back for edits. But once again, I submit and am done. I am not the one keeping track of things or herding kittens and this makes all the difference. Many of the advice columns and youtube videos I watch focus on writers who run freelance businesses and the arduousness of querying, pitching and hustling. I think the pay is better when you set your rates and market yourself on places like Fiver.  I am willing to trade slightly lower pay (though still more than I used to make and daily freedom to boot) for not having to run another business on top of an already existing business.

In my more panicked moments during the spring when I was worried about money, I would eye job postings of all kinds, full time designer gigs, editor and marketing positions, other library programming-related things I probably had the experience for. Some were really tempting to relieve me of my money-related anxiety.  But I would back away before applying, thinking those were the last things I needed now that I was beginning to feel so good and on top of press-related business and my own creative work. Some jobs eat bandwidth while others eat less. Managing people and keeping track of a hundred little details takes away room for something else.  Running a spotlight is less stressful even 20 feet in the air, than trying to make sure every single thing is in its place and running smoothly on stage. I feel like if I'd came to this realization a decade ago, I might have saved myself a lot of angst.  

notes & things | 7/23/2022

Crazy storms blew in overnight, most of which I was awake for while watching the new Persuasion, but another burst around dawn had me scrambling to close some windows to stop the deluge from soaking my windowsills.  The cooler air was nice, and I slept the rest of the morning away after a couple fitful overly-warm nights. There are summers that seem rather stormless, but then again, maybe it was storming all along when I was trapped in the library's depths where I couldn't see outside. This summer has proven to have quite a few that send the tree in the courtyard between buildings bending sideways.  This same tree that was once just a sapling 6 or 7 feet in the small overgrown garden of the polish couple now tops out at the 4th floor. A few more years and I imagine it will be wide enough to skim my windows. I've always wondered how it even grows at all in the north-facing shadow of this mammoth 17-story building, but at certain parts of the day, small slivers of sun hit it between the other buildings and that must be enough. It loses its leaves later in the fall, well into November, and takes a long time to come back in late May, but always does. 

I've spent the week puttering on writing assignments, lessons on textile dying, a rather brutal and sad Edwidge Danticat story, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Some south side Chicago schools for the neighborhood guides, children's foreign language and reference books for the antique site. My home decor pieces included a formidable piece on groundcovers, a celebration of orange, and some throw pillow suggestions.  I find that my late-day design writing balances out the early part of the day's dryer more research-heavy topics. Switching back and forth on topics and styles (academic, informational, informal and chatty) keeps things interesting. 

Creative-wise, there are a slew of new chaps ready to be released after a couple of weeks working solely on author copies and more submissions to read.  For my work, more videopoems, edits on early pieces of granata, and a cover design for the forthcoming book due out October--automagic, my spooky little book full of victorian spiritualism and serial killers. I did give a sneak peek of the design in my latest TinyLetter, so subscribe if you want some early looks at things, including one of the Persephone poems, none of which have seen the light of day just yet. Also, general newsiness all in one place that's usually scattered across social media and here all tidy, folded, and placed in your inbox.

Other than that, I've spent different parts of my week decorating my freelance notebooks like junior high (they all were the same and I got tired of searching out the right one), listening to a lot of 80's rock, and rewatching both seasons of Emily in Paris, which is totally soapy, but has pretty clothes, hot French men, and endless Parisian views, what more could you want?

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

confessions of a project poet

A very long time ago, I was not a project poet. All I remember was a certain amount of chaos in my writing adventures.  The fall of 1998 when I sat at my round, broken table in my tiny studio apartment writing out poems by hand then typing them into a cumbersome word processor I used for most of my grad school essays.  Or the summer as an undergrad I spent banging out drafts on my electric typewriter in my parent's dining room, poems that were all over the place style and subject matter-wise.  I would just randomly pick a topic or a line out of a metaphorical hat and write a poem. So weird.

This seems really strange, since the idea of doing that, of having to do that, piques me with a terrible sense of anxiety now. When I moved back to the city after a year away, I started writing to publish, so most of my poems were drafted by hand and then saved in my work e-mail, then later, my personal e-mail. (and many on this blog.) At first, they were disparate, and I have no idea my process then for conceiving a's as strange to me as if the work was someone else's.  I wrote about childhood, and mothers, and loss. About loneliness and memory. There were some narrative threads, but nothing that intentional or able to hold anything together.  

When it came time to put that first book, what became the fever almanac, together, it seemed overwhelming, to wrangle all that matter into something that made sense. I eventually did it. But it took a while and numerous drafts, and a couple years of submitting and failing but it was eventually a book. By the time it was released in late 2006, I was already a project poet for reals, though I might not have admitted it in the moment. The second book was made up of projects--smaller bits made of even smaller bits. There were the Joseph Cornell poems, the victorian genre poems of errata. The bulk of feign centered around danger and femininity. The archer avenue series. While they were disparate shorter series, they formed a constellation, not only by time, but by subject matter, and eventually they built their own book, in the bird museum.

By then, I was already well into girl show, the longer book project that was my thesis. These were the first whole manuscript of poems intended to go together from inception, and it was much the same for the shared properties of water and stars, written rather swiftly in 2012, a book which felt more like a longish, fragmented chapbook than a full-on book. The books that followed seemed to be made up, like the second book, of smaller series--major characters in minor films, salvage, little apocalypse, sex & violence, feed, dark country. Even the latest one.  Most of them appeared as chaps or zines, or videopoem series prior. Smaller projects that make sense together.  There are two more, as yet unpublished, the forthcoming automagic and collapsologies, which I'll probably release sometime next year. There are a couple different clusters and bits that may form similar books in the future. These books, since I have already done the heavy lifting in terms of ordering on a smaller scale, the final, longer book is just a matter of putting the larger sequences in order in a way that makes sense, which is much less arduous than a full wriggling mass of a manuscript. You put the dolls inside the dolls and stand them up. Repeat. 

Then there is granata.

I've actually been reading tips and advice from novelists and fiction writers.  It feels strange to be writing a larger, whole, book-length project from the beginning, with a plotline and narrative structure (or hopefully will have these things god willing.)  But its nice, and now, in this quieter, less hectic space of my brain the past 6 months, I feel like it's actually possible. The sustained concentration and focus I need. I had it once, in grad school, but it was sort of forced. And even girl show was written over the span of about two years of fits and starts, bits and pieces. This will have taken most of the summer if all goes well, but it will be a sustained effort. I am about halfway there, with quite a few miles left to go...

Monday, July 18, 2022

notes & things | 7/18/2022

It's been one of those sticky, cool and cloud-filled weekends that seem commonplace this summer, in which everything in my apartment feels slightly clammy and damp, including most of the paper which curls at the edges and gets waves if left unaccompanied too long. My sheets feel damp, but the fan in the bedroom makes it far too cold when on, so I feel too warm and too cold all at the same time. Hopefully, it will break early this week, or at least rain enough to wring out the air a little and bring dryness and sun, though I am not missing the heat exactly. 

We are more than halfway through July and already I am antsy for fall, an affliction that usually doesn't befall me for another month. It's the first fall I will be without my usual academic fall routine of back to school, so I will have to make sure to indulge in other fall festivities even more.  New notebooks and sweaters at the very least. I am working on another video poem today and it's definitely a little bit spookier than the preceding ones, so maybe it's just making me long for cooler weather, despite my love of these long, lingering days.

I also am dipping my toes in the water of submissions this week and making a prelim list of what I want to read a second time. The nos usually get a few pages in before I decide I'm not digging it, but if it has potential I keep going and then move it to the second round folder. In August, they start duking it out.  There are already a good 300 submissions, which seems like a lot for halfway through,  and we always get a bump in August and a lot that last week, so I have my work cut out for me. I also need to touch base with my ever-patient mermaid anthology authors & artists,, who have been on the long journey of making this happen and I think we might be able to now that I have more bandwidth.  If that works out, there will be more to come, both book arts things and maybe even perfect bounds. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

the worry monster and the maskless wonders...

Yesterday, on my bus ride downtown to pick up some covers from Staples, I would guess that only 50 percent of the bus was wearing masks. While that maskless demographic was once only entitled (mostly white) men of a certain age, it seems to have spread, like the virus itself to all ages, genders, and demographics.  While I normally just would have moved to be away from the maskless, I found myself surrounded by them with nowhere to go, breathing very shallowly. 

I tried to figure out on the 40-minute ride if I was somehow being unreasonable. Granted, my safety precautions have kept me, despite being out in the world daily until 6 months ago, safe from infection. That alone may be proof I'm being wise in and of itself. Early on, the maskless were mostly just selfish assholes intent on being contrary.  I'm not sure that's entirely it anymore, since these people don't even seem to be thinking about it all. I'm not sure they are intentionally NOT wearing a mask, more than just feeling (like everyone's wishful thinking) its no longer necessary  And then I wondered what it was like--to be so sure that you will be totally fine. Because I have never. Not once. Not ever. 

I blame my mother, of course, whose worry and anxiety was probably as genetic as her piercing blue eyes. Written like a script into my chromosomes and then grown like a hothouse flower under her care for the first part of my life.  I was always taught to prepare for the worst even while hoping for the best and it's mostly served me well.  I tend to operate under the assumption that if something CAN happen, it very well likely will. So be vigilant.  Be ready. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, I distinctly remember sitting in a car in early February with my best  friend while she talked about being worried about covid, which was just beginning its slow deadly creep across Europe. I was not worried.  Frankly, I was so tired and busy and preoccupied that I barely heard or watched the news. Even still, I thought, hell, this is America. We have agencies and systems to control things (yeah, I was obviously wrong.) Granted, we were both worriers,maybe why we're friends,  and perhaps her response in march, in which she slept with a hatchet near her door and started stockpiling rice was a bit more dramatic than my interpretation of lockdown that involved a lot of Netflix and buttery bagels, But still, she was right in more ways than not.  I was caught off guard.  I said I never would be again. 

So all along, I've been careful. Masks, vaccines, boosters, avoiding unnecessary maskless or unsafe situations. I've only eaten in restaurants a handful of times, a couple times outdoors at uncrowded hours or places that have a lot of room to spread out. I've gone to late-night movies with only a couple folks in the theatre. (back in March, I even took off my mask once we were seated.  Not in April, though as cases began to climb.) Last June, when it seemed it might be over, I went a thrift store without a mask during that pre-Delta, post vax lull. (well I still had it with me, close in case I needed it.) I've been watching the numbers creep back up and my social feeds fill with more cases than I have ever seen before the past two months, so I won't be changing my ways any time soon. 

My boyfriend, who is not a worrier, sometimes to my ultimate horror, does not take precautions, and does not worry quite as much as I do.  It is one of the parts of his personality I adore under everyday circumstances, which mostly compliments my nervous worrying, but the past two years have often tested my anxiety. He got covid once in early 2021, and is in fact sick right now, not terribly, with something that may or may not be covid. Thankfully, we see each other once a week and I've won the russian roulette of not being around him when he was contagious. But it's still alarming.  He is slightly younger and probably less at risk for a bad outcome overall. But still I worry....

Because I always worry.  Because that's who I am, maybe. If we were dinosaurs, I'd be the one staring up at the sky and thinking "That can't be good.." as the meteor descended. Maybe genetically it makes me evolutionarily more gifted, but sometimes, like my mother and her worn out heart, I wonder if the worrying will kill me far more quickly than any actual threat. I've been working to stop my tendency to doomscroll and awfulize endlessly, but it's hard. 

Maybe my more important question is how do those people live, without worrying that anything that can and will go wrong could? And should they, especially when it has the capacity to hurt others?

memoir in bone & ink #3 | video poem series


see more at my YouTube channel and on Instagram...

Thursday, July 14, 2022

witchy kitchens and writing

I am aware the week is not quite over, but I did just work my last "shift" of the week for House Digest (we commit to a certain number of hours per week rather than piece by piece for this one.) I wound up selecting late afternoon into the evening three days a week, mostly since I am in the middle, and therefore the most productive part of my day. (also I like to reserve the earlier afternoon for writing lesson works since I like having a somewhat fresh head for the more academic, longer assignments). So far, I've written about swimming pools, Victorian kitchens, and how to keep your flowers from wilting so fast and it seems like a nice way to end my day thinking about home design things. .  While the kitchen one was a photo-centric piece with less text, it was long and I needed to source a lot of images, so it ate up a good portion of yesterday and today.  The other two were much shorter.  I kept thinking how much I personally want a kitchen like the one in Practical Magic and chose my images

It's not technically the end of the week since I still have a neighborhood piece on Beverly and a lesson on Maya Angelou in the draft stage I intend to revise and submit tomorrow, as well as a trip downtown, to pick up some chap covers for next week.  I'll be working on some writing and press stuff leisurely over the weekend, but no writing for a couple days unless its this blog. Last week I kept feeling this same feeling of surprise as a payout for the neighborhood guides and my first official check for the antique site hit my bank account--that really, I'm still surprised when I actually get paid for writing things at all.   After what is decades of writing and never getting paid much anything outside of some tiny royalties and some reading/workshop stipends. It feels surreal, but also very right. There's been a bit of hustle through the spring and much anxiety to land these gigs, but I have a full and satisfying plate now, so I fully intend to sit back and enjoy them.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

video saved the poetry star

Today, the Facebooks reminded me that it had been 2 years exactly since I created the very first video poem--what would wind up one of 5 total trailers for my SEX & VIOLENCE book. Five total, mostly because there is a lot going on in that book and it felt like it needed more than one. Also, because I really liked making them once I started and kind of couldn't stop. I was using the Adobe suite, which was free through the college, and it had a tendency to make both my laptops at home and my desk computer at work crash, but I muddled through and learned how to take various things, photos, graphics, archival footage in the public domain and free stock video to make videos I was pretty happy with.  This continued on afterward with the SWALLOW series--13 video poems I released in late 2020, and a couple trailers for other projects, both written and visual. It was also a bit serendipitous since a year later, Tiktoks and reels would slowly gain popularity, and those same skills could be applied to create moving versions of the postcards I had been making all along for Instagram, which get a fair number of views. 

In many ways, it scratches the same itch for the visual that collaging does, and the process to create them feels a bit like collage.  I also think back to that summer, coming out of lockdown and having to go back to work, terrified in a pre-vaccine world and just beginning to feel the sort of ennui that guided the past two years, how readily I bent my head to the task of learning how to make them, which gave me something to concentrate all that nervous energy on.  It also didn't look like we'd be back to live readings any time soon (and really we're still not at the point even now that I'd feel truly safe.) So what better way than to share work in video form--be they recorded readings or text. I was also coming out of a fallow, frozen period in which I could barely read or write or make much of anything, so these were a reach toward some sort of artistic productivity.

Granted, I've gotten much better and swifter than I was.  I've since learned to use various other software, free and paid to get the effects I want. I can put a video together in a few hours vs. the day it used to take me. I've written much more material that sometimes seems exactly right for video.  I am more than halfway done with the MEMOIR IN BONE & INK series, the newest one, but there are sure to be more on the horizon as I prepare to release another book in the fall. You can follow along with that project here, as well as view some of the other videos from the past two years...

Saturday, July 09, 2022

memoir in bone & ink #2 | video poem series


I am releasing a new video from this series each week through the end of summer...

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

notes & things | 7/5/2022

The last couple of days have been overly humid, occasionally stormy, and filled with pops that may be fireworks, may be gunshots for all we know. I am staying close to home, the world too caustic and bloody lately. On Monday, I worked, having taken a long weekend since Friday, but also because there does not seem to be much of anything to celebrate, and Monday's events just a few miles north of the city solidified that. It feels like this most 4ths of July in the last  half  decade or so. I am not so proud to be an American when my America looks like this---a huge flag waving over strewn lawn chairs and children's lost shoes.  if there is anything more American I don't know what is. 

Other than that, I am working through author copies, orders, and writing pieces.  Yesterday Antigone, today, the Artemis Temple at Ephesus. The latter an undeniable proof that the Christians ruined all the fun when they swept through Greek/Roman territories and replaced the pagan traditions that preceded them. I am tired of pretending that the steady push toward religious totalitarianism isn't still happening. As someone secular, on the outside of all of it, I cringe when I hear the endless thoughts and prayers all the while doing absolutely nothing to stop the sort of things that happen from happening. Meanwhile, even the good politicians stand around with their thumbs up their arses.

Summer already seems like its slipping away--and always does after the 4th. The days will be getting shorter, maybe not noticeably just yet, but it will creep steadily toward the fall until one day we look around at 6 pm and it's getting dark. In a month, summer will feel straggly and overgrown, and as much as we welcome it, I'll start getting that tiny yearning for fall. Depending on when you ask me, I will either say September or May is my favorite month, but as a season, fall reigns supreme (if only it wasn't followed by winter.)

Saturday, I debuted the first video poem in the memoir in bone and ink series, and a new one will be unveiled each week through the end of summer. I have about half in the can and am still working on the ones for August. Then there is preparations for automagic to turn my attention to (amazingly I do not already have a cover design, but I kind of know what I want it to look like.)  It will be out right before Halloween, being a sort of spooky little book that fits well with the season.  granata continues to go well, though the most recent ones need some work before I send them out as submissions. 

I do like the storms that blow through each night like clockwork on these sweltering days, calamitous, thundering events that throw leaves and garbage can lids around. Right now, outside a steady downpour and what is maybe thunder, but could also be fireworks somewhere off in the distance. 

Sunday, July 03, 2022

freelance life | 6 month update

It occurred to me over the weekend that it has been exactly 6 months ago that I set sail on this crazy little adventure working on my own after over twenty years at the library. Sometimes it still does not seem real.  It feels like I snapped my fingers and several months passed. It feels like there's a part of my soul that still gets angry and sullen over the things I let pass as acceptable those last few years, especially near the end.  I left, citing my desire to spend more time on my own pursuits, but there was so much yuck underneath that still occasionally prompts me to utter a WTF? outloud. Money and treatment of non-MLA-degreed staff. The way my talents were taken advantage of, but never quite rewarded. A place, that as whole, took more and more til there was nothing left. I was totally complicit in all of it, which means perhaps most of the anger is self-directed rather than any one person or institution.

Nevertheless, it doesn't matter.  6 months ago, I walked out into a snowy, cold February evening with the last of my stuff and left the place I spent most of my days behind.  Sometimes my old job feels like an ex I want to spy on.  Sometimes, I am so happy to be out of it, I don't even want to think about it.  This is not to say it's been all roses.  There were moments where I was really worried about money. Trying to strike a balance between taking on freelance work that I may not be all that interested in just to get a feeling of stability.  The goal, initially,  was of course to perhaps eventually grow things like critiques and workshops, design jobs, my Patreon,  my shop business, to be able to eek out a living with the extra bolster of some freelance work.  But I also worried I was putting a little too much pressure on the shop (just because you make things, of course, does not mean they are going to thrive in sales (esp. in a shitty economy.)  With things just costing more--toner, paper, outsourcing printing, postage, I worried that the chapbook series would stay out of the red this year (so far, so good, raising the list price $1 helped) But yes, money made me anxious, esp. with the spectre of a rent increase on the horizon and new building management. Would I fail and end up not being able to tie two ends together firmly. Growth in terms of new shop offerings and art work takes a little time as well, as well as money for supplies.  

There was also the struggle of determining what a day looked like now that I had so many options.  At first I wrote lessons like a madwoman (which I started writing in November as I eyed the door), sometimes for several hours a day.  Since this was more academic, research-laden work it felt best to just dive in first thing in the day.  I'd spend the latter half working on press stuff, and then later at night, with a block of creative time. I tried different configurations and weekly plans and finally found one that works pretty well.  I was also able to add, over the course of a few months, some other new writing-related work to supplement the lessons.  I actually feel like I now have an embarrassment of riches that has me feeling so much less anxiety about money going into July. I also seem to have collected a slate of jobs I am really excited about--writing about all sorts of things like antiques and home decor and Chicago neighborhood history.  

There was a lot of applying, querying, and trial jobs involved, but things worked out far better than I imagined. I now am able to switch back and forth between various projects and levels of intensity during the hours I work on freelance stuff each day. Longer and shorter assignments help.  I also feel good not having all my eggs in one basket. I will also be able to save up my safety cushion rather than dip into it and still have extra funds for occasional treats (I've been so careful these past few months in terms of not spending on anything I did not absolutely need. To be able to buy a fancy bath gel or new dress or takeout will be nice again. ) Even the hours dedicated to writing work allows me so much more flexibility and hours per day for creative work and press work than I ever had before.  You figure even if I work a standard day, I've gained two extra hours that used to be commuting and so much more energy by not having fifty percent of brain space eaten by library work I was not even close to being compensated for. That means the hours devoted to creative things are so much more productive than they used to be. and my brain is infinitely quieter and more organized.. And even though I still have two dozen tabs open,  my inbox is even occasionally zero. If I have to do work on the weekends, its more a choice than a necessity.

You worry a lot when you do something like this. Especially when you have very little net to catch you. City living is expensive, especially alone. Especially in this economy. Would I fail and have to find another full-time job eventually?  Was this just an experiment that may or may not take?  But ultimately, the thing, outside of money, that I feared turned out actually not that scary at all.  I worried a little over the past year, that should I make money by doing other kinds of non-creative writing, would I have nothing left for the poems. If I spent so much time inside words, would they fail me where I needed them most.  I've actually found not only is this not true, since they use very different parts of my brain, but that sometimes they, too, feed each other quite nicely. I'm present in my own creative work in a way i never was able to be before. I've also learned so many new things peripherally--random trivia and subject matter (who knew I would ever know this much about architecture?), but also video script writing, SEO optimizing. I think I've discovered that this monster in the woods was perhaps not even a monster at all, and maybe its just the wind after all. 

Saturday, July 02, 2022

memoir in bone & ink | video poem series

 Over the past month, I've been working on a short video series of poems from MEMOIR IN BONE & INK (which will also eventually be zine coming in August with additional poems that didn't quite make it to video.. You can follow along on my Youtube channel for full size versions of the videos, or on instagram, where I will be posting mobile formatted versions as well.