Instead of working on 1 project I’m going to work on 3. Because 2 of them are small and near completion and the other NEEDS TO BE WORKED ON. So I’m trying to kill 3 birds with 1 stone this year.
Mr. J (opens the door to go to work): Hey there’s a new cat outside!
(We live in an apartment complex with lots of stray cats.)
Mr. J: Yeah!
Me: Yeah (Not the happy, enthusiastic “yeah” but the uncomfortable, defeated “yeah” of a person who all cats know will do anything for them and will ultimately suffer the displeasure of her inside feline overlords because the outside cat made big eyes at her yesterday and she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to go without paying homage to the outside cat by giving him/her the inside feline overlords’ treats. And once they find out I’m giving an outside cat treats there will be HELL TO PAY!)
Me (again): Yeah.
is so soft
no one notices and
when our breath catches
in our wine swollen throats
we wonder how
could have snuck in.
For my birthday
I asked for a 12
pack of toilet paper
and a sturdy pair of boots.
The first to fight
the ration shortage,
the second to fight
For your birthday
the state of Virginia
banned oral sex
along with all the other
nature so I
sent you a picture
the turkey blaster.
We still manage to see
fireworks even though
they are not
In some distant
country not yet at war
with us the arches
of a cathedral crack.
I make an altar
out of pilfered bird
bones by the river
you will never see again.
touch down inside
of a 10 mile radius.
We all raise
but we cannot
hear each other scream.
Writing as a person who has a “day job.” I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m not a business person. I can’t afford to just write and make money off of my writing. I have zero expectations that writing will make me financially stable. But writing isn’t a hobby for me, writing keeps me alive. Writing gives me the strength to go outside my apartment and exist as a human being in a society filled with other human beings. Sometimes being human is scary.
But I’ve found, more harshly than previous bouts of writer’s block, in the last few months I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t found myself capable of putting the ideas forming in my brain onto the page. I have several works in progress and several ideas for how to make them awesome but when I turn on my iPad to write I can’t make the words happen.
So what do I do?
Now I only write numbers.
05 line the 26 day line 2018
My initials are not letters but curves in the road, a roundabout, a punctuated swirl.
I never write my initials the same way twice
But the lab techs and quality know every time it’s me because they
I don’t know what they write I do know
I don’t write words anymore, only numbers
10 line 04 line 2017 JH
And so on
And so on
With ballpoint pen
I used to hate writing with ballpoints but you can get used to anything if you do it long enough curls in the road like a ribbon, a strand of hair, a stray thought that begins where you are and takes you where you want to be with who you want to be with but if you lose focus you have to error correct and then there are more numbers and more lines
The physical physicality of writing
One of the cool things about self-publishing is that if you aren’t happy with your work, especially your poetry, you can change it without having to argue with an editor or another publisher.
Graveyard and Twisted Myths had been out for a few years now and one of my writing goals back in the summer of 2017 was to pick my favorite poems from both collections and write a bilingual edition with Spanish versions of those poems and call it Martyrs and Other Creatures of the Abyss. In addition to the poems from Graveyard and Twisted Myths, I would publish and translate 10-20 new poems. Well, as 2018 rolled around a lot of my prose/fiction projects were taking up a huge chunk of my writing time and those 10-20 poems just didn’t get written. And then I had the idea that I wanted to translate ALL of my poetic works into Spanish, not just pick my favorites and discard the rest.
With that came the decision that all of my work thus far needed a serious overhaul.
Some of the poems from Graveyard were written back in 2007 and I’ve definitely changed as a person and a writer since then. Also, Riverkill was my grad school thesis and has been through several extreme transformations since 2012. More than anything, I wanted to make for myself an opportunity where I could say HI to my work again and see if any of my experiences in the last decade could deepen or enhance the conversation between the writer and the poems and if new creations could be born from them.
I haven’t made a lot of changes to the content. A few words here and there, a few lines added, others taken away. The biggest changes you will find with these collections are the titles, the order of the poems, the covers, and where you can find the collections now.
1. Graveyard and Twisted Myths are now combined into one edition titled LUPERCALIA (one of my favorite poems from the collection). Riverkill is now titled THE ECHO OF SOMETHING HITTING (a line from the text).
2. The order of the poems from Graveyard and Twisted Myths has been rearranged to make a more organic flow that blooms with the tone and theme of the title poem, Lupercalia. I want you to visit the places in my poems, see their fallen gods and never forget the value of love.
3. The covers! I had a lot of fun with this. As I now have a job that gives me more expendable income, I can have people design book covers for me and pay them. I got the cover for Lupercalia from https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/ at a very reasonable price with prompt and satisfying customer service. The new cover for The Echo of Something Hitting keeps the same skeletal structure of the previous cover but the title (obviously) and color schemes are different.
I want to wrap up January. But not really. What I want to do is burn January alive. I want to do very bad things to January because January sucked. The beginning of 2018 was supposed to be full of joy, light, and promise. I was supposed to tap into my unlimited potential and blaze across the sky like the light of a dead star. I was supposed to WRITE ALL THE THINGS.
Well, I didn’t write all the things because within the first week of January my MacBook Pro forgot it was a laptop and decided it didn’t want to start anymore. I couldn’t get past the loading progress bar and the big apple logo. I tried restarting in safe mode, I tried updating/downloading a new version of the software. I spent a few hours on the phone with apple tech support and even though they were extremely nice and awesome, there was no hope for my laptop.
Luckily, I already had current backups of my photos, music, and important documents like last year’s tax return and all that crap. What I didn’t have backed up were the most recent 15,000 words of Havoc’s Moon and Past Life. I lost three chapters and several important edits of Havoc’s Moon and over half of Past Life. And the ironic thing about that is I’d made a backup 3 days before hand, had an awesome stretch of writing, was feeling extremely proud of myself and when I went to turn my computer on to BACK UP my amazing progress, that is when I discovered it wouldn’t turn on. Words cannot express the devastation I felt. It was worse than having my period. It was almost, almost as bad as watching the season finale of Made in Abyss. Almost, which is saying a lot.
A few days after tech support told me there was no hope I was able to obliterate my savings and get a new iPad. I bought a 128gb iPad Air on clearance. It’s gold, which you can’t see because the keyboard case covers all the shiny. I already have a 16gb iPad 1 made back in the Stone Age so I had limited experience on how an iPad really works, which is kinda like an iPhone but kinda not.
My long term goal was to switch from a laptop to an iPad anyway because I don’t really need that big of a processor for the work I do and Pages can convert a file into an .epub FOR FREE, unlike Scrivener which is not free. More on that later.
I can say that my transition from Laptop to iPad has been relatively hassle free. The Bluetooth keyboard case works really well and aside from trying to backup my photos (again) to the iCloud so I could download them onto my iPad and somehow deleting them off of my phone, something I didn’t want to do, writing is happening.
Now, by happening I mean it’s happening now, in February. Back at the beginning of January, I needed a week to figure out what the fuck I was going to do, how I was going to fix my stories, in which I “outlined” and drafted ideas with my brainstorming buddy, Mr. J, and then when I felt comfortable enough to start over again I got the flu. I took 1 day off at the day job and used all of my energy to not fuck up when I went back to work and clean the litter box when I got home. That was all I had strength for.
No writing happened in January. I barely cleaned my apartment. I was lucky I could get up every morning on time to give the cats their treats (and equally lucky I did not fuck up at the day job. that would have been bad.).
And now February is here and I am scrambling to catch up. Writing fiction on an iPad is about the same as it was writing on my laptop, easy once I get the idea going. I’m not sure how writing and editing a poetry manuscript will be, however, because I haven’t mastered how to look at multiple screens simultaneously.
I am happy with my decision to move from writing on a laptop to using an iPad to fulfill all my writing needs, however, I would have liked more time to do more research and save up more money to make the transition without killing my savings.
(Disclaimer: I am a self-publisher of ebooks. I don’t do print books. I know that Pages has a lot going for it but I don’t know if it’s friendly for designing print books so I can’t speak on that subject. Also, this is not an in depth, compare and contrast of Microsoft Word, Scrivener, and Pages. I don’t know if I have the patience or sanity to write one.)
For my word processing software I am using Pages, which, if you have a Mac, iPad, or iPhone I seriously recommend over Scrivener or Word because:
1. You can sync all your documents to all your devices and back up documents to the cloud and NEVER LOSE ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.
2. The templates and formatting options Pages offers is just as comprehensive as Scrivener’s templates and even though you might have to teach yourself how to do some of the more detailed page setups and physical formatting like margin setup, it’s free software. I’m happy to take the time out of my day to teach myself how to design what I want and use free software than pay Scrivener for version 1, get the free update for version 2 but then have to pay to get version 3. No, I’m not bitter about that at all.
3. If I want to create and publish an ebook on my phone I can. That’s seriously cool.
I used versions 1 and 2 of Scrivener. Scrivener is cool, it has a lot. It has a lot that I don’t and didn’t use. I’m not trying to say that Scrivener is useless, the formatting and design options were really useful and I self-published 3 poetry collections using Scrivener. But now that I want to up my game I want software that’s more compatible to my needs. I don’t need a screenplay template. I don’t need a pre-made submission template when I already know how to format my document. So I’m happy using the simple tools that Pages has because I can build my own templates with them and use my money to buy book covers.
I hope the beginning of 2018 treated you better than it did me. Thanks for reading and keep on keeping on.