Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Starting Another Book--Hopeful Hopelessness

I'm preparing a last batch of essays and poems to send out for the mad fall rush, then I focus. I hope. On a third book manuscript. The other two are floating out there in the world, pissing me off, making me cry.

Today I got yet another encouraging rejection on my writing, and lately it's been the creative nonfiction. Left and right, but few takers. This is really, really, getting tiresome. I am competitive, I am envious, I am jealous. I am confused, I am saddened, I am disnechanted. And if I wasn't, I don't think I'd be a writer or any damned use to any potential reader. That's not much comfort, though.

So I feel like I need to quickly reflect, purge my system of these other two manuscripts--though I know that if taken (no, it's when, right??) I will likely invest much time in them again.

Afterimage: Poems -- Frankly, I could care less who takes this book any more. Sound crass? I used to think it mattered who published your work. Well, it does, but you know what... I don't think it matters nearly as much for poetry as prose. The audience for poetry is far less, and I think the poetry book is more a statment for the c.v. that says something like "Yes, I'm competent, see? I can write poems, know what I'm talking about, and can focus and train myself enough to actually produce a book. Yeah, I'm a writer."

Morning Glory: A Story of Family and Culture in the Garden -- This thing is seven months young--vs. the poetry which has been shopped around for five years--so I am much more concerned about where it ends up (it is a hybrid memoir that is maybe proving a bit tricky to market, partly because of the hybridity, partly because I'm still learning how to write queries and proposals). I think first books often don't mean as much to one's opus as later books and where they come from, but first books are like first dates. Memorable first dates. Or just really nice handshakes--you know the ones, because most people don't shake hands very well at all.

So I'll soon be off to Oklahoma and Kansas to undertake something incredibly massive--a memoir of sorts (and maybe a side collection of poems), but that's all you're getting. I've no idea where it will lead me, what narative will unfold to bring order and focus to further research and--eventually--the writing. After a slew of rejections recently in the midst of sending out work (it's like eating Haagen Daz as you run to the toilet) I think that, ultimately, the only thing that can possibly satiate my impatience and dismay and doubt is to focus on writing again. Like never before. Because I ain't half bad at it. I think. Maybe. What do you think? Oh man, validate me, please.

7 comments:

Amanda said...

Good job, you.

James Golden said...

Nobody can validate you. I think you have to do that yourself. But you have a voice and a story that brings readers like me back again and again, even when you're whining, moaning, groaning ... wearing your heart on your sleeve. Good luck on the new venture.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Amanda--Is that serious, or sacastic? Serious, right? Hmm.
James--You are too kind my friend. I sometimes think I'm being too whiney and worry about it, but hit "publish" anyway in a momentary dash of courage. It's easier to post about gardens or nice photos or people who mow too often.

Layanee said...

Do what you love and it will come! Who said that? I think it is true though. Keep at it. Nothing worthwhile is achieved without a bit of sweat.

Rosey Pollen said...

You kick*#*.

our friend Ben said...

Don't give up, Benjamin! Don't... give... up. Never say never! I have four-plus novels, endless poems, five children's books, and a movie plot still in the queue. And I love writing them. Supporting myself by writing them would really be the icing. Good luck!!!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Layanee--Gallons and gallon of sweat. But why do some people only have a few pints? Whine whine whine.
Rosey--You know, you're right. And people's butts are soon to hurt more because of my kicking.
OFB--That's a lot of queueing!! I see no reason why writing can't support a writer--but I don't think it comes so much from book sales as it does being paid to lecture, to judge contests, to work at conferenes and retreats, and of course to teach full time. Sigh.