Booking It, Part 9: Another Existential Crisis

Jan. 25, 2017 | Jeremy Benson

I was hoping that under the tree or in my stocking I might find a note from an editor. Or two? But there was only coal, and one of those freaky ferbies-with-wifi.

Oil Change

The few weeks after the holidays have been a practice in getting the machine of creation and the business of art up and moving again. The parties, the errands, the rain, have caused this writer to rust over a bit, its wheels stuck in the mud. It has taken a lot of coffee and wine and grease up the gears again; a lot of self-control to resist stalling once more with television screens and YA novels. A writer at rest wants to stay at rest, he yawns, and all that.

As we approach the final quarter of this journey’s timeframe, I have to admit I’m beginning to scramble. I’ve gone through my first choice of editors and publishers, and have started in on the second-tier picks, all to no avail. I’m sending out manuscripts that I’m proud of, that feel true and full of life—and my team of unpaid-but-for-my-gratitude readers has said mostly the same (that is, after I made a few key revisions and editing decisions based on their feedback to make my manuscripts stronger). But I’m beginning to have doubts.

Quarterlife Crisis

It echoes a period many artists have in their careers: is this how I want to do this? Do I have what it takes? The fact that I feel like I’m repeating myself—sorry that I am—it confirms that this project for me is entirely about exploring that stalling-out, that existential debate: If a writer writes in a forest, but no one publishes their poems…? It’s Shroedinger’s Poet: inside my house, I know there’s a poet; I don’t know if the poet is dead or alive or both.

Let me note, though, that the midnight hour is when I’ve done some of my best work. That magical witching hour when suddenly everything clicks, the muse finds me, and a project comes together as the creative universe vibrates with harmony. I’m going to hold onto that thought, as it invigorates me.

So. It’s clear I need to mix up my strategy if a chapbook is in my recent future…


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