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Booking It, Part 11: Revelation

One month out from my project’s deadline, and I need to accept that this goal of getting a chapbook published is probably not going to happen.

First, a Poem

“Wright Write Right”

You know in your head what you want. So you scribble and sketch, make cut lists and figures. But you know it comes together as it will. Such is life. From out of a fog, solid slowly. The wood makes its impression before the saw, and the saw follows the plan, but does what it needs. The thing changes in your mind in your eye in your hand. Finger its joints. Change your design. Marry nothing. Trust.

Coming to Terms

One month out from my project’s deadline, and I need to accept that this goal of getting a chapbook published is probably not going to happen. The few responses that have come back were polite and supportive declines; and frankly, my efforts to get it done have slowed to a stand-still.

Overall I’ve come to the realization that, once I weigh the time and energy spent to get manuscripts together and research publishers and contests, for now publishing is not something I’m terribly interested in pursuing. I don’t need to see my name on the spine of a book to feel accomplished, or to call myself a writer.

Restate Your Hypothesis

I need to ask of myself, again, why I set out on this journey in the first place. There’s no money in poetry, and little fame, so that certainly wasn’t it. Maybe it was to gain an audience—but let’s be honest, it’s not like my little chapbook, or anything published in its wake, would be read in every 10 th grade English class in California.

No, ultimately I think my purpose was to be able to say that I had done it. The way people do when they get tickets to see a classic rock band that was great 40 years ago but hasn’t put out a new album in 20 years, or after they make their descent from Half Dome. A kind of check mark on the bucket list. In other words, it was so I could answer “yes!” when people ask me at parties, “do you have anything published?”

I was seeking legitimacy. It was because I call myself a poet, so the next logical step is to get published.

But in my 11 th month of this project, I’m not so sure those reasons align with my true desires.

Push to Shove

I’ve been thinking about how when push comes to shove, I’d rather live the kind of life that promotes poetry, in myself and in others. A life of Poetry that is deep and empathetic and complex.

For now—for now—I think perhaps my time is best spent elsewhere: with people, in nature, laughing and breathing. And then, at the end of the day, scribbling down some words that might be called poetry.

As an artist, I’ve come to understand that the piece doesn’t work when I’ve forced it toward a direction. I operate best when I let things take shape as they will: letting a poem guide itself, letting a piece of wood say how the sculpture will end. Best to trust the journey.