Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Waiting Game

I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t had much to report and I haven’t felt passionately responsive to anything (literary, that is. I’ve been caught up in the lunacy of the upcoming election, but that is a subject that is already being done to death in the blogosphere and I doubt that I have anything substantive to add. Just more toxic vitriol that bears a striking resemblance to the toxic vitriol of other thirty-something underemployed artsy liberals).

So here’s the quick and dirty update: I’m engaged, a couple of my poems have been accepted by a couple of journals, I interviewed for a job and didn’t get it, I interviewed for another job and am waiting to hear whether I've made it to the next round of interviews, my aunt gave me a car, we signed our pug up for obedience training, I’m still freelancing and I write occasionally, mostly in response to prompts from my writing group.

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary poetry. Mostly stuff published in the past five years. To familiarize myself with what’s being published. To see how other writers sequence their books. To get an idea of whether endnotes are a good idea or whether they’re self-indulgent. To figure out if there are publishers out there that might be a particularly good fit for my manuscript. And also to enjoy myself. Because I’m not entirely self-centered and I actually do love poetry and it’s one of the few things that keeps me from ineffectually spinning my wheels about employment and politics and the economy and the environment. As a side note, I totally dug Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s In the Absent Everyday .

But really, it is all about me. And my book. I’ve revised it. I’ve sent it out to a finity of contests. I’ve considered whether sending it out to contests is a waste of time based on recent debates about the pros and cons of the contest system, I’ve researched publishers that hold no-fee open reading periods and found them few, I’ve revised again, I’ve considered formatting (2-inch margins or 3-inch margins? Alternating headers? Leader dots in the TOC or empty space?), I’ve come dangerously close to weeping for no good reason, I’ve considered changing the title of the book to Albatross so I can call it Al and it can be my bodyguard, I’ve shown it to and received feedback from many people—poets and non-poets alike. And now I am dwelling in the space of What now? What more? Mainly, it’s about the waiting. Waiting for responses, rejections. Waiting until my eyes are fresh enough to look at the manuscript again and consider further revisions. Waiting until the next thing grabs me and I can write in a different mode (a different register, a different mind) and produce contenders for the next book.

I’ve never been good at waiting. The magazines in the lobby are never interesting enough to make it feel like you’re being productive with the time. Someone has always reached the puzzles in Highlights before you and marked all over them in ink. Even though it’s ever so important that you get those teeth cleaned, it feels like there’s something else more important that you should be doing...OK, so this metaphor totally doesn’t fly. I’m not sure what gingivitis represents in the process of trying to get a book published, so I’m just going to admit defeat on this one.

So scratch that and let me begin again: I’ve never been good at waiting. But that’s what I’m doing now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this blog from the MFA handbook site. This entry cracked me up. I suck at waiting, too - I'm the most impatient person I know. But the dentist waiting room metaphor did it to me. As soon as you mentioned Highlights, I was six years old again, flipping through those worn issues, waiting to get my teeth cleaned but, more importantly, waiting to get that gaudy plastic ring for being a good girl.