And The Books Are Taking Over

via Pinterest

There they lie. On the sofa, next to the love seat; piled up, a stack by my chair at the kitchen table. On the stairs leading up, next to my bedside in three stacks, under a pillow, on the bathroom vanity.  Leading up to the point of Mr. B stating emphatically today, “You have books everywhere.”

Currently, I do. I literally have books on almost every surface of my house. I have found myself wandering around with books and setting them down, only to come back later and pick up where I left off. Most are poetry books. I ordered a slew of them (meaning 5, from Better World Books) last week, and I currently have several different books floating around at various stages of being read. Course, then I went to the library today and came home with three more. Not poetry this time, but nonetheless, there are books everywhere.

I have not had much time to read read, as in, delve into a novel or whole book. I have been able to focus on a poem here or a spat of poetry there, but actual focus for a book has been nil since I finished Bittersweet a month or two ago. I’m a little lost as to when. Pardon, I am rereading Sous Chef for the third time (this time I’m underlining crucial parts I feel I need to remember)

via Pinterest but links to etsy

But poetry, oh poetry is lovely in that you don’t have to finish it from start to end. Pick one book up, flip through, read a poem, and put it down. Bam! Done.  My writing has taken on new flavor lately, dabbling in slightly lighter prose and poetry. Heck, even prose poetry, or is it prosey?  Either way, I have had some better days.

There has been a few things I felt I should write about, but they hit me like a sucker punch, or that feeling when I was hit in the sternum by a hardball when my dad was teaching me to play catch and I lost my breath. But sometimes it’s just too hard to write about. You get hit so hard you are still kind of having an out of body experience a week later. (side note, my playing catch and throwing a ball days were bad. Seriously bad. My dad says I can’t hit the broad side of a barn and that I throw like a girl. It took a 9 year old boy two years ago saying “but you are a girl…” to really not care if I can throw right)

So, instead I’m reading poetry. And submitting. I sent off six poems today to a place that was having open submissions. And I’m working on a document to send off to the New Yorker. Whew! I feel very brave taking that step. I’ve been saying I’m going to do it for months, but then I just put it off. I felt this driving desire to submit in the last few days and so here I am. I think part of it comes off of a poem I wrote about the steam explosion that was in the Flatiron District a week and a half ago. Or a week ago.

There was something so fanciful about that, for some reason, that I had to write something about it. I may not know much about New York, but it was fun to play around with things after going above in a bird’s eye view of the district, then going down to street level and looking at the aftermath.

It has been fun to write about lighter things. Work and some of the dramas at work have been dragging me down a lot, even though I’m happier. Much happier. But for months I have written a lot about relationships and the dramas of life and it’s exhausting. I need happier things in life. Having a good boss has helped. A different work load and a new menu and excitement has helped. I may be tired, but it’s a good tired.

So, now that I’ve rambled on, here is a list of the new books on my ‘Reading’ shelf.

  • The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
  • Lucifer at the Starlight by Kim Addonizio
  • The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (finally I own it!!!)
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • A New Geography of Poets compiled by Edward Field
  • On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  • When We Were Young by A.A. Milne
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
  • 99 Poems: New & Selected by Dana Gioia
  • Poetry: The Golden Anniversary Issue edited by Henry Rago
  • Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
  • New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich
  • Sous Chef by Michael Gibney

And a slew of New Yorker magazines for the poetry aspects. I might be a little insane. I might be trying to overwhelm myself. All while adding in plenty of Poetry Off the Shelf podcasts and a new food/chef podcast called The Emulsion Podcast  by Justin Khanna.

Cooking, submitting, writing, staying super busy. I didn’t think my year was gonna be like this.

What are you all reading and into this summer?  I’d love to hear.

Kate

Rejection Affection

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

If there is one thing that is truly unique in the world of writing, it’s what happens when you get a rejection letter. The rejection letter itself, that simple piece of paper with a couple paragraphs (or email, as the case may be with most rejections coming in an email form letter) is actually something quite spectacular. It’s a sense of belonging. A sense of accomplishment. Why rejection is a compliment is funny to nonwriters, but to us, it’s like a trophy.

For me, my rejection letter came 3 months and 11 days after I submitted my poetry manuscript to Milkweed Editions. It arrived on a Friday morning, 6 days after I had ‘quit’ my job and I was still reeling from that feeling. I took my news of my rejection to my writing group, and to the chorus of “Congratulations” my writing friends reminded me that a rejection is a good thing.

Yes, it’s truly strange to be congratulated on ‘failing’, so to speak, but what nonwriters don’t understand is that it is a badge of honor to have that letter. It means someone has read your work. It means you were brave enough to send something out. It means you are trying.

This is my second….. nope wait I forgot the short story……… this is my 5th rejection letter. But for an actual manuscript. My poetry manuscript wasn’t quite what Milkweed Editions was looking for, but that’s okay. It’s my first real manuscript. My first rejection letter came from a query letter. This is an actual manuscript!

But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. In fact, just yesterday, but an amazing twist of fate, someone on Twitter, contacted me and asked me to submit some of my work to their journal. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone actually wanted me to send them my work. Now that is an honor. I mean, sure, I have my lovely ladies reading my work, but sometimes you wonder how biased it is. No offense Dona, Mel, Sera, Maddie(Piper) et al. but I do think you are biased.  I mean, you know me. But to have an unknown editor want you to submit. Whew! Mr. Streeby, I am truly honored. (and my ego has been supremely boosted)

Ah yes, rejections will keep coming in, but it’s a good thing. I have my very first rejection letter somewhere in one of my writing files. It’s an actual print letter. And one day I will frame it a la Richard Castle in the episode The Old Haunt……. I think that’s right. It’s an honor, and now I can edit the said manuscript and fix it for another publishing house because inevitably, I have found serious flaws and grammatical mistakes the minute I sent the darn thing off. Ah, perpetual editing comes when you can edit your own work. Mels, said it best the other day, but I forgot how she phrased it. It was good.

And I have new things to add. Infatuations with an Eskimo, working in a kitchen, which I have ‘quit’, but am more on a  temporary leave of absence due to stress causing major health problems to creep back in. So I do have ideas for writing about kitchen life. Sorry Chef dear, but I can’t not write about a crazy kitchen!

So, if you have had a rejection letter, first of,  “Good for you!” I’m proud of you, whoever you are. It’s an honor because someone read your work. Keep up the good work. We are all rooting for you in our own way. It’s nice to have friends and family root for me.

Kate

Entering Into Poetry Manuscript Crazy Feeling

I had a brilliant idea two weeks ago. I am going to collect my poetry into a manuscript for submitting in the fall.

Cue crickets chirping and questioning looks.

I get it. Even I’m sitting here thinking, ‘wow I’m ambitiously optimistic.’ Considering I’ve only ever submitted my poetry to Writer’s Digest Poem A Day things. I’ve never sent my poetry out into the world. I have designs on doing that. I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. But after reading Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon, I looked at the publisher and thought I would look them up. Then I found out they have open submissions for 60-page manuscripts in September.  I have four months to get a manuscript together. So far I have 33 decent poems. (I undervalue all of my writing) All unpublished, all unsubmitted except for Writer’s Digest. Even I’m not sure if I’m crazy or not.

Yes, I doubt myself all the time. I know I enjoy my own poetry, but everyone enjoys their own poetry. I think that’s a given. If you don’t like your own, well… I can’t help you. Really. I have enough issues with my own. I think it all stems from comparing myself to what I consider, great writers. Ada Limon is my new favorite (though I’ve been reading her for a year) along with my standards of Billy Collins.  I should probably stop raving about him. I have poetry books I feel I need, but all are pricier than I can afford after splurging recently and getting my dog his painkillers (talking pricey) The splurge was not the painkillers. 😛

Anyways, I compare myself to ‘great writers’ thinking that I’m ho hum. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. My writing group is fantastic about listening to my poetry. I think I have found my ‘voice’ so to speak (haha) in regards to style. And I’ve only just started getting comfortable with not always being nice in my poetry. I’ve started swearing some, because sometimes you just need to use the word ‘fuck’ and it fits. Sometimes you just have to swear.

Getting to the raw aspect of poetry is the challenge too. Maybe that’s why while I like Mary Oliver‘s poetry, it’s too pretty for my tastes. This coming from someone that likes to write nature poetry. But she’s just not my thing at the point. Hence Ada Limon; or Clint Smith, though I don’t have his book yet. If you click this link, you can read his poem My Jump Shot. It’s down a few poems. I heard him read it recently when he spoke with Billy Collins at Drake University.  Oh. My. Gosh. I love it. (coming from a girl who did not have a single sports gene in her.)

I think this is also why I don’t write a lot of rhyming poetry. It’s too pretty, so to speak when it comes to angst. Or at least in my opinion. That and really, rhyming poetry is freaking hard sometimes.

Just ask my sonnet months. Le Sigh.

Anyways, I am ‘hard’ at work compiling poetry. Some of it is from my November PAD submission, but most are from my poetry filling up all of my notebooks, spilling out and not having a place to go. Who knew I had so much floating around. I keep coming upon more poems and it’s like a mini Christmas thrill. “Ooh, I found another one!”

So, there’s my week. Another week putting off the novel I started, which got all of about 20 pages into a comp book, at the most. Thankfully that has a formula and a plot (yes, from this plotless writer it has a plot!) so I can come back to it at almost any time. But poetry is filling up my waking hours and thoughts.

Kate

Let’s Have A Cup Of Coffee And Catch Up – Writing 101 Day 11

steaming cupTrying to catch up my readers seems a bit redundant. I feel like I’m forever updating on current projects, or lack of projects, but let’s see what I come up with just an overview. Or if we were sitting down to coffee, I’d tell you all this. I’m not really up for a conversation, poetry, or interesting piece. Mind fog.

First off, I’m second week into Writing 101 and it’s exhausting in it’s own way. I love it, but I wonder if it’s really helping me. Does this make my writing better? Well, maybe because it has required me to have focus. Sort of. And not really come up with my own ideas. I mean, sure, the basis is mine, but there is a general theme of writing well. And it has helped me take time to practice using social media to promote my posts. I don’t know why I didn’t know how to do that before in WordPress, but I have some of it down better. So, there is some structure. I think.

I’m week two into the Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge, and feeling further and further behind. I have written seven and a half sonnets… or three half sonnets as well. It’s kind of odd. If I could finish those three I’d be further along. I still struggle with the iambic aspect. I get pentameter. That is seriously no problem. But unstressed/stressed still makes me groan a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if I start thinking in iambic after a while of this though.  But I am having to play catch up constantly. I’m not following the specific rules of the PAD challenge, considering I can’t seem to write a sonnet in 24 hours and move on to the next one. So it’s day 17 and I have less than half completed. Sigh.

My month has kept me busy with life changes, from it suddenly being our family business’s down time, sort of, to health problems, and family health problems and going here and there for such things. I’m so exhausted it’s not even funny. But I have finally started to recoup a bit on my anemia. I spent the summer being anemic and I’m finally into a safer zone but still not out of the water yet. The low iron made it impossible to keep running, which I wanted to do for health reason. But when your doctor says ‘stop running’, you do what he tells you. Maybe next year, because I cannot run in the winter in the mountains. It’s too cold.

I was thinking and semi talking with Caterpickles the other day about a story I sent the 8 Year Old when she was more like the 5 Year Old. Gads time flies. I wrote a picture book and turns out the 8YO still loves the story, and obviously can read it herself these days. I need to seriously sit down and consider a query letter or more to some agents and see if one might accept it. I had hoped to have the book published before Jules’s kids were out of grade school and the 8YO was still only 6. Clearly I am far behind that plan. So onwards and hopefully agent wards…

Does anyone else find that sometimes they get really annoyed with other people that are trying to publish and are telling about all their challenges?  There is one blogger I follow who is working to publish juvenile fiction and it annoys the heck out of me about his methods of submitting and working through Twitter and various other social media aspects. Does anyone else ever feel annoyed with other publishing authors? Or is it just me.

I looked into submitting a short story to Readers Digest after my grandmother read the story and said I should. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of stories RD gets, it’s like next to nearly impossible. So, I’m putting them on the back burner for now, but the short story needs submitting somewhere. I had tried Glimmer Train, Tin Roof, and The Meadows literary magazines, and all rejected my story after an 8 month wait. It’s okay though. I had three magazines read my story.

So, okay, I guess I have something to talk about, right?

For some, this is not terribly interesting, but others might find it helpful. Is there anything you, dearie would like to add?

Kate