Project 1: By the time this publishes, my chapbook High-Voltage Lines will have come out, from Barefoot Muse Press. I’m arbitrarily setting a chapbook as being equal to half a book, so this project is now 50% complete.
Brief reflection on terminology: A number of people have asked me what a chapbook is. Traditionally, it meant a pocket-sized book, usually very cheap, disposable, and meant for mass consumption. Ten years ago, a typical chapbook was hand-made, of 8.5 by 11 paper folded in half and stapled. Nowadays, with print-on-demand technology, chapbooks are likely as not to be perfect-bound, indistinguishable in form from a regular paperback, and are no longer regarded as disposable. In poetry, generally, a chapbook runs < 60 pages; full-length collections are 60+ pages, although these are only rough guidelines. Interestingly, I did put together some 8.5 by 11 chapbooks for distribution at a local event, and heard people referring to them as “zines.” Zine, to me, implies that there have been or will more issues, i.e. a zine would be a (semi) regular publication whereas a chapbook is usually not; however, zine does carry the implications of ephemerality and affordability that chapbook used to.
Back to the project. The Scorpion’s Burning Kiss was not a winner at Alice James. By the end of July, I hope to have resubmitted it, this time to a local publisher. Sister to Bridges was also rejected from Moon Path, so I need to also resubmit that.
Project 2. As of June 30th, I’d written 39 calendar poems. At a goal of two per week, I should have been up to about 52. I’m not going to make the goal on this project.
Work pressures have been a big factor in this. I can’t really speak very much about that; suffice it to say, my job this year has greedily devoured both free time and emotional energy. (It’s the energy, more than the time, that’s affected my writing.) But it’s paid off, though never quite as much as we hoped; I’m satisfied with my work, and I think this phase is finally winding down. Next year will feature new and different crises.
But I also haven’t been thrilled with the prompts. I’ve written a little before about the challenges of developing effective poems from the “Wisdom of the East” quotelets. A further challenge that’s emerging is repetitiveness. I blame the calendar editors for this; with the resources of two continents to draw on, they really could have put together a much wider selection of sentiments.
(“Two?” Yeah. Lots of quotes from the Middle East, which technically is part of Europe– and that’s assuming the quote from Roman Seneca is just a mistake. Oddly, nothing from Australia or the Pacific islands, both of which lie further east than, for example, Persia.)
I think the project has at least partially served its purpose, in restoring me to a higher level of productivity. I’ll update that on that as we get closer to the end of the year. Another development is that I’ve joined a prompt-writing group: we gather once a month, hosting by turns, and the host offers up 3-4 prompts on which we write. I’m not abandoning the calendar, however. As work pressures ease (I hope!), I’ll try to make the goal for the later months of the year. It will require a more creative approach to the prompt material, unless there’s a sudden change in the nature of the calendar (no, I’m not peeking ahead).
Ramadan starts next week and I am on vacation… good times to write!