And Now a Word from She Who Is Soon-to-be Published

I’ve been thinking about cover art and blurbs and such, and I can’t tell you how stressful that is.  I’m beginning to think writing the book was waaaaay easier than all the stuff that comes after.

Karen says I ought to hold a contest and have my students come up with possible cover art.  Which I could do, and maybe give like a giftcard or something to the winner.  However, there’s a little part of me (alright, a BIG part of me) that thinks that rates a 10 on the Gouda Scale.  But what are my options, otherwise?  I can’t take a photo to save my life, and let’s not go into my painting skills.

And then there’s the whole “author picture” thing.  That’s a debacle in waiting.  I’m about as photogenic as roadkill.  (And no, this is NOT a call from my devoted friends to protest otherwise, well-meaning and lying as you would be.)  Ugh.  I don’t even want to think how obnoxious getting a professional-looking photo will be.  It’s not like I can ask Chris to take it.  He takes ghastlier pictures than I do.  Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

And Goddess save me, I have to find people to blurb my book?  If there’s one thing I despise (but secretly crave it anyway) is affirmation and notice from others about my writing.  The thought of approaching anyone and asking them to read La Petite Mort and say how great it is, fills me with absolute blood-freezing dread.  I go out of my way to be unnoticed, quiet, fade-into-the-woodworky.  Asking someone to read my book and hoping they’ll like it enough to say some kind words is like a nightmare to me.  I think I’d rather extract every last tooth from my mouth, sans Novacaine.  I don’t even know who to ask.  Who even really wants to blurb a book?  Isn’t it kind of phony anyway?

Ugh.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m the most ungrateful, idiotic, ridiculous person in the world, who just got her book accepted and ought to be hella grateful, and instead, here is she is bitching about it.  You’re damn right I’m bitching about it.  I am grateful–I’m not a complete moron–but is it wrong to be just a little freaked out about the extra associated crap that goes with the acceptance of the book?  The pictures, the blurbs, feeling like a big bleah-head??

(Not that feeling like a big bleah-head is new for me.  I feel like that quite often.)

OMG!!! Finishing Line Is Taking La Petite Mort!

Alright, I’ve been hella down in the dumps lately, like, nauseatingly so.

So, imagine how awesome it was to get an e-mail from Finishing Line Press today telling me that they’ll publish my chapbook La Petite Mort!!!! This is completely out-of-the blue too, because I had entered it in their New Women’s Voices contest, got the standard “Thanks, we’re going to publish this amazing writer, and you’re not her” note, and didn’t give it another thought.  I guess they also choose to publish a select number of non-winners.

But I am dizzily happy, crazy amazed, and thrilled!  Tomorrow I will worry about withdrawing it from the other contests I have it in.  But tonight I’m going to bask in the knowledge that I finally have a real, live book to my name.

Apologia

I didn’t mean to be having a pity party, and I’m sorry I came across that way, but I have been feeling like I’m sort of at a blah place in my writing, and it’s not just about that one crappy poem that was getting me down.  And it’s not even been about lack of success with the chapbooks or poems being rejected. Unfortunately, I do feel like I’m not growing as a poet, at least, not lately.

Though, I came across a folder of “juvenalia” writing, from about 1993 to 2000, that was hilariously bad.  When I was younger, I loved to learn obscure words–I poured over dictionaries to find new words that I would then populate my poems with.  This is not the best way to write, by any stretch of the imagination–because one or two might be ok in a poem, but when there are 10 crazy words (or more) in there, you wind up with a completely unclear vocabulary lesson.  Boring!   With a few exceptions, everything in that folder is dreadful.  

And, in comparison, the writing I do now is so much better.  But I want to like what I’m writing, and lately I’m just not.  So if I’m sounding like I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I apologize.  I feel like I need a “reboot.”  

I wish I could go to another writer’s conference.  I need some of that momentum and energy–CVWC was only 3 weeks ago, but it seems much longer than that.

What’s the Point?

I don’t think anything I’m writing is worthwhile.  I don’t feel like I’m growing as a poet.  I’ve just… had it.

When Good Poems Go Bad

I’ve been working on this poem that just isn’t going well.   Going well?  Try, not going at all.

Well, let me back up.  As I said in my last post, this poem, called “The Art of Loss,” was to be the bridge poem between the real and the imaginary in this chapbook collection I’m trying to get together for a contest with a deadline on the 15th.  All of the poems in this collection have something to do with animals.

The speaker is addressing an artist whose beautiful, jungle art, populated with jaguars and orangutans, has been replaced with abstract, muddy-colored images that the speaker doesn’t understand.  And the artist herself is mute in the poem, with the exception of producing these images that are so contrary to her earlier works.

What I was trying to do was comment on how the loss of imagination affects artists, how something as personal and communicative as art can suddenly become unknowable, how, as I said in an e-mail to Bob, “the painting of things becomes the painting of no things.”  But in what I’ve written so far, it has become the “poem of no things.”  

It’s just not working.  I’m on revision 12, and I can’t seem to do anything to make it better.  Each time I work on it, it’s gets progressively worse–almost as muddy as the paintings that the artist does.  And it’s a pity, because I really liked the early drafts of the poem–or at least, I thought there was a good kernal of poetry in it.  After I gave it to Bob and he commented on it, I realized that it’s basically crap and I should just abandon it.  Maybe it’s one of those things I’ll come back to in 5 years and have some amazing epiphany about it.  But it’s frustrating because I REALLY needed this poem to work now.

Now, I’ll have to choose something else to replace it, which wouldn’t be as big a deal except for the pesky fact that the title of the collection came from a line in “The Art of Loss.”  So now I’m title-less, as well as a poem short.  

Maybe the real problem is that the collection desperately needs focus, and I thought this poem could provide it.   I don’t know.  I’m just really disheartened.

And, while I’m at it, I’m disheartened about the fact that I keep sending these various chapbooks out and no one wants them.  (Got another rejection today.)  Maybe my poems are just bad.  I’ve said to Karen and Bob both that none of my poems go together–they don’t resonate with each other or speak to each other or do any of the things that collections are supposed to do.  

I’m just really, really disheartened today.

About My Painting, I Guess You Could Say I’m a Decent Poet

nununu 2NuNu, Acryic on panel, 6″ x 6″

I painted that for Chris.  It is not, what you’d call, a “good likeness.” (Of NuNu, that is, not Chris.  If it were a painting of Chris, it would be horrid.  Being as he’s a husband, not a tuxedo cat.)poppies 2 

Poppies, Acrylic on panel, 5″ x 5″

Named Poppies in honor of The Wizard of Oz, this one I painted for Lisa Verigin, since we both like musicals.  But she doesn’t know I made this for her (yet).  The scan is kind of blurred, and I think that’s because the paint has a lot of texture (this thing took forever to dry).

redcatsmall

 

Firecat, Acrylic on Panel, 5″ x 5″

Chris compressed the file for me, so the picture was smaller. This one too has a lot of texture, so the image isn’t as clear as it could be.  I’m not sure who I’ll give this to.  Probably depends on if anyone wants it!

I was thinking I would maybe give it to Suzan Manuel, a friend from my first day in graduate school at Nazi State University.  She likes cats.  Even hideous ones.

You see, way back in March I had promised that I would “make something” for Suzan, Lisa, Chris, my sister Kirsten, and my FB friend Greg Butterfield.  So, these pictures are the result (although I don’t have anything yet for Greg).  

Here’s the last one:

sunsetsmallSunset Over Cross Lake, Acrylic on panel, 5″ x 5″.

This was the first painting I experimented with “liquid metal,” a kind of acrylic paint that is very beautiful, but doesn’t mix too well.  It has more of the consistency of tempera than acrylic, and it comes in a little pot, not a tube, which is inconvenient.  But I liked the effect, and I employed some of this liquid metal in the other pictures I’ve scanned (as well as some others that are drying).

Anyway….

In news poetic, I’m working on an ekphrastic poem that is kicking my ass, and except that one of the lines in the poem is the title of the collection I’m working on, and the poem is therefore pivotal to the collection, I’d just as soon toss it and come back to it much later.  I suppose I could still toss the poem, and come up with a new title for the collection, but I hate to do that, because I love the title… Oh well, it doesn’t have to be decided tonight.