Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bits & pieces

Bill Maher, on the Internet: " 'It's like a library,' my friends told me. Yeah, a really rude library. Have you ever been in a library where someone comes running up to you screaming, 'YOU WANT VIAGRA?' "

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Still keeping up with napowrimo. Of the 18 poems I've drafted so far, my guess at the moment is that maybe 5 or 6 are worth revising and working with. Not too shabby, for someone who normally considers one poem a week to be a pretty steady pace.
The titles:
Intercepting the Supercell
Why I Wait Till Late
The Last Storm
[untitled: "Again, I find myself dreaming"]
Daylight Saving
Things You Should Not Write About
Making Sense of Entropy
Storm Haiku
Sugar Takes Shelter
Sugar Ignores the Morning Paper

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The process of closing my branch library continues. May 26th will be our last day of operation as a library; after that it is turned over to the academic department, which will operate it as an information commons type space. There are an overwhelming number of details to contend with throughout this process. The good news is that as I transition into my new position over the summer, I will be working a few hours per week on the reference desk in the Information Commons/Undergraduate Library Services. It's a fairly busy ref desk, and I've never provided reference services to undergrads (other than the occasional one who wanders into my branch library) so it will be a bit intimidating at first, but I am assured (and I do believe) that the "deer in headlights" feeling goes away after the first couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to it, actually. When I first started library school I was quite certain I had no interest in doing reference work. Then I took the introductory reference class and absolutely loved it. Go figure. Also, I really like all the librarians & staff I will be working with over in the IC/UGLS; they're all very friendly and knowledgeable and for the most part they seem to enjoy their jobs. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from them.

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Next month I turn forty-five. No two ways about it: I am middle-aged. Turning forty was good; I made my first solo trip to Provincetown when I had just turned forty, and it was a happy, relaxing, exhilarating week. I ate some fabulous meals, spent significant chunks of time just relaxing on the beach, saw my first humpback whales, and wrote a couple of my first tentative poems after a long hiatus. Forty-five feels, from here, like it might be a bit challenging. Lots of transition. Job transitions, and the sense that I need to decide what role this poetry thing really is going to play in my life from here on out. Am I going to make the effort of putting together a book manuscript and trying to get it out there? (Which presupposes, of course, deciding that I think my work is good enough.) Am I going to finally do what I've been yapping about for years and apply to low-residency MFA programs? Am I just going to keep plodding away writing my little poems and sending them off to journals now and then? How can I make sure I push myself hard enough with this stuff -- and how do I know whether it's worth the effort? If I stopped, nobody would call me up begging me to start writing again -- it didn't happen when I stopped before, and it wouldn't happen if I stopped now. The momentum has to come from me; I'm the only one who really gives a shit whether I write or not. I've been at this, in my interrupted way, for over twenty-five years now. It is very likely that I don't have another twenty-five years left to work on it. So I had better either get busy, or make peace with the fact that I didn't.

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Fear the Poet!


Lyle Daggett said...

As I recall, Walt Whitman was about 45 when he published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. It's not too late.

An option to test the water, so to speak, might be to self-publish a small book ("chapbook," as they're often quaintly called), maybe 15 or 20 poems (or however many seems right).

You could do a first printing of, say, 100 copies, which would supply enough copies so you wouldn't run out immediately, but wouldn't be such a huge quantity as to leave piles of books on your hands.

You could think of it as a project to get your poems out in the world (or, from another perspective, a really classy "business card"), rather than a profit-making operation.

(Though if you price the book at a dollar or two above cost, you might stand a chance of breaking even -- at least eventually -- after accounting for copies given away to friends, etc.)

Just a notion from someone who has done this (many years ago). I found it entirely worthwhile and a whole lot of fun.

Radish King said...

If having a book is the be all end all, then you may be in the wrong business. I just don't get it. I am happy to write, when I can. I am thrilled to be published, occasionally. I got lucky with my first book, my second came from hard work but I would have kept writing without them. I don't get it. The book won't make you famous or rich. I think a lot of this I NEED A BOOK AND I NEED IT NOW comes from some kind of blogOsphere pressure. There wasn't so much talk about I NEED A BOOK among poets before the Osphere rolled around. A book was something you worked hard for, for years, not something you expected to have.

Writing Blind said...

I completely agree with everything you said, both in the post and in the comments. I definitely feel the blogosphere puts so much pressure on you to prove yourself somehow as a "real" poet/writer. What happened to just writing because it was something you loved to do?