Booking It: A Quest for Publication, Part 7: Second Breakfast

Oct. 26, 2016 | Jeremy Benson

Booking It is a 12-part weblog detailing the work of trying to publish a book of poems by an established publisher by April 2017. Read previous entries here: 123, 4, 5, 6.


The hobbits take second breakfast. John Muir, I’m sure, took naps in his lumber-mill loft between chopping logs and meditative hikes. Dorothy and her crew—remember?—recuperated in a field of poppies. In other words: all good quests and adventures take a break.

After a long summer of staying up late to finish revisions before clicking send on a manuscript—and now that the short days and rainy weather are here to dampen and damper my motivation—I’m ready to put my pen down and my feet up for a spell.


I’ve used October to catch up on sleep, and reading, and to work on projects (and people) I’ve neglected since beginning this project. That’s something difficult about being a creative person who is still working their way up to a self-sustaining, financially gainful, artistic career: to have to choose your art over your social life, or your health, or __________. The Hold Steady, one of my favorite bands, has this great line: “Dreams they seem to cost money, but money costs some dreams.” To work toward both money and dreams, in art, means that other dreams, other priorities, get set aside. I’ve spent October bringing those other things back to center-stage. Just for a time.

Second Guess

I was talking to another local writer during Napa Bookmine’s Local Author Festival, and she mentioned that it’s okay for someone to write just for themselves, or just to show their immediate social circle, if that’s what they want. As my manuscripts have returned with polite declines and form letter Nos, I’ve asked myself, too, bit by bit, if I am indeed the kind of writer who needs to have their work published. Or, should my writing just be for me?

I don’t know.

No, I do know:

It’s hard to put aside all the other things I enjoy—cooking, woodworking, hiking, biking, drinking wine, making out with my romantic companion, watching good movies—and I don’t think it’s completely fair to my whole self to devote all my time to only my writing craft. I’m a polymath, and I think my writing is informed and refined by a wide breadth of interests.

But writing is also enough a part of me, of my identity, that I have to prioritize it, at least in some way. And for now, for me, that means trying to reach a broader audience.

It’s such a juggling act.

Which is another hobby of mine, so… So October has been about balance.

But, like second breakfast, like a nap above the lumber mill, like a sudden doze in the poppies, the break is simply to catch my breath, to store my strength, before the next big push.

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