In this blog, I’ll be detailing the work of trying to publish a book of poems by an established publisher by April 2017.
Booking It: a Quest for Publication
Part 1: Wannabe
Tell You What I Want
It’s funny how time can get away from a person. I just turned 30, and honestly, I thought my twenties would go slower. Or that I’d be more efficient with their time. I’ve had whole weekends, which from Friday looked like they were huge swaths of potential for knocking things out of the park and off the to-do list, only to realize on Sunday that all that potential was lost to the need for sleep and bad movies on Saturday afternoon TV. I didn’t realize a whole decade could disappear similarly.
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t do anything in the last decade. I traveled. I created. I moved across the continent. I had an incredible quarter-life crisis. I made friends. I uncled a child. I was productive. And happy with my progress.
However, looking back, as a green 20-year- old, I expected to be farther along. If not in my personal life, then at least in my career as a writer. When I graduated college, I told myself I wanted to have a book of poetry published by age 30.
So. I’m 30. And that desire remains unfulfilled.
Enter the Third-Life Crisis.
What I Really Really Want
In our funny culture of creators, the only means to move up in the organization is to put in the work—to forsake relationships in favor of solitary confinement with a pen and blank paper, to choose a late night in the studio over a solid night of sleep, to buy canvas rather than wine.
And there comes a point—or many points—when an artist has to ask themselves: is it worth it? Is this means leading to an end I really want? Is the uphill slog in waist-deep rejection letters, through the fog of impostor syndrome and the white-out snows of social ridicule worth the eventual summit of a sold piece of artwork, or a name on the cover of a book?
I’ve certainly made my decision for many of the creative interests that have come and gone in my life. I know that for all my enthusiasm for drawing and sketching, I really take too long: I’ll never be an illustrator. I know, despite 7 years of playing saxophone in the school band, despite loving marching across the field during halftime, I never was and never will be a great musician. I have weighed these options for myself. I will continue to doodle, and maybe sometime I’ll pick up a guitar and relearn the chords I taught myself as a punk teenager. But the effort it would take for me to be proficient, to be a professional in those fields, is not worth it, for me, for my life.
I Wanna I Wanna I Wanna
But writing, writing is something else. It is a constant. Writing and I are entwined, and I don’t believe there is any untangling from it.
The time has arrived for me to lean into being a writer. To walk the talk, to work the word. It is time to trust when other people say they love my writing. It is time to trust my friends will remain friends if I say no to a night out and yes to my keyboard. It is time to accept that I could be a great poet. It is time to make space, to do the work.
It’s time to get a book published.
In this blog, I’ll be detailing the work of trying to publish a book of poems by an established publisher by April 2017. I’ll discuss the precarious leap from amateur to professional artist; the artist’s interactions with gatekeepers and audiences; working within a greater community to network and commiserate; assembling and revising individual pieces into a portfolio; when working the grind bumps against romantic idealism, and if wanting a book published is mere vanity or legitimate personal accomplishment. Whatever your medium of choice, I hope you’ll find my quest resonates with your own artistic journey.