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From Anne Sexton:

September 8, 2017

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Courage

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From Audre Lord:

September 6, 2017

I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic
and the noon’s new fury
with all your wide futures
promised

A Woman Speaks

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From Tracy K. Smith:

September 4, 2017

Go for a while into your life,
But meet me come dusk
At a bar where music sweeps outs

From a jukebox choked with ragged bills.
We’ll wander back barefoot at night,
Carrying our shoes to save them
From the rain. We’ll laugh

To remember all the things
That slaughtered us a lifetime ago

Willed in Autumn

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From H.D.:

August 26, 2017

Weed, moss-weed,
root tangled in sand,
sea-iris, brittle flower,
one petal like a shell
is broken,
and you print a shadow
like a thin twig.
Fortunate one,
scented and stinging,
rigid myrrh-bud,
camphor-flower,
sweet and salt—you are wind
in our nostrils.

Sea Iris

lack of reading

August 24, 2017

i try to set myself a goodreads book challenge every year (and i use goodreads because it makes me accountable, because it’s all tracked online and other people can see it). most years, i aim for 25-30 books, which seems like a lot to me. but then i see people on twitter doing #95books. NINETY-FIVE BOOKS IN A YEAR. if you read a lot of poetry, this would be absolutely doable. but novels? i’d have to put my nose to the grindstone and really work hard at hitting the goal, and for me… i’m not sure that would be pleasurable. i want to read when i want to read, not because i feel obligated to.

which brings me to the main point: i’ve barely read anything this year. i’m so behind on my reading challenge, and my little goodreads ticker on the right side of this blog has been woefully un-updated. i just don’t have the urge. which is weird for me. but i also figure that i’m doing so much writing that my written-word reserves might be tapped, and so my brain doesn’t want me to pick up a heavy novel and dive into it.

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this is something i’ve found, working in news. i read all day, every day. i get into work and open up a story and just go, non-stop, from there. if i’m not copy-editing, i’m proofing pages. if i’m not proofing, i’m designing pages and working with words. it’s completely word-oriented work, and i’m good at it, and i like it, but it also means that i never get onto the subway after work and want to crack open a book. usually, i have a headache and dry eyes from squinting at a screen for eight hours straight. it’s often preferable to put on a podcast and close my eyes for the 30-minute ride. factor in my own writing, and my own editing, and i’m a word wreck.

it’s a bit distressing, not wanting to read and having lost the urge to. i have books by good friends just sitting on my bedside table. i bought them to support people i love, but now i can’t join the conversation because i’m lazy/tired/sapped/tapping out because of all the words that i deal with in other aspects of my life.

but i think i just need to let and let god. im writing. im writing my brains out. i’m editing my own work in the mornings and im going to work and editing globe and mail writers’ work all night. all day every day, im involved with words. i think i just have to trust that once the book edits are done, i’ll rebound. or maybe, if writing books becomes my life, i’ll have to learn how to adapt, how to be able to read vociferously like i used to while still writing my own words. i think it’s a journey, and so far, my first few steps haven’t been great. but maybe i’ll just trust that it’ll all even out and, some way down the road, i’ll be carting big books around on the subway again.

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From Shireen Madon:

August 21, 2017

Be a box of pears clothed in gold paper. Be something more tart. Lime. Be mouth,
be kingdom. Wear something made of infinity. Be sunset
over a silk Zardosi sea. Be the young girl who survived a drowning
by her loved ones. Be acid. Be sailed. Be colony. Be endangered
and dangerous. Wear your own damp skin. Body, be something
useful.

– From Dear Body, from Rattle

first (eighth) draft

August 19, 2017

at the beginning of this month, i submitted my first round of edits to my publisher. but when i say “first draft,” i mean first draft sent back to M&S. because “first draft” is a misnomer. technically, this is my eighth draft. when steph was sending my work out to publishers, we were sending out my seventh draft. when i first submitted to steph, i was sending her my fifth draft. lots of people have asked me “oh, so you do one round of edits and you’re done?” or “so you submit and then they publish in a few months?” which kind of shows how cloak and dagger the publishing industry can be sometimes, and also reflects the fact that us writers just kind of… write, and don’t often ask the questions we need to ask/aren’t always clued in to what happens on the other end of the manuscript.

people often ask why it’s going to take so long for my book to come out. the pub date, for now, is spring/summer 2019. here’s how the timeline went and will go for this whole process:

  • july 2016: i queried steph (with draft number 5 – i had written and rewritten the whole manuscript over the past few years), she asked to read my whole work, and by the end of the month i had signed a contract and she was my agent!
  • the two of us worked on edits from september to november; during that time, i banged out two more drafts.
  • we queried some writers to see if they’d endorse the manuscript (which means reading it and writing a blurb-like statement saying how much they liked it, etc.; agents take those endorsements and attach them to the query letters they send to publishers, with the intention of giving the query more clout.)
  • by january 2017, endorsements had come in, and steph sent the manuscript (draft 7) out to a list of publishers.
  • by february, i had meetings set up with two publishers. this is when it moved really quickly – within a week or so of these meetings, the manuscript went to auction, the two publishers bid against each other, and i went with M&S.
  • so then i had to keep the news secret for four months and that was the most difficult part hahahha
  • i got the editors’ schedule and first ideas in march
  • in april, i got my official edits
  • i started really editing in may and was a hermit woman for the summer; the tough part was not being able to tell anyone for the first month or so why i was avoiding people and spending lots of time in my apartment.
  • and my due date for the first round of edits for M&S was august 4.
  • i just had a call with my editors the other day, and as of next week i’ll get another set of comments/edits and will have till november to work on them.
  • after that, i believe the next round of edits happens at the beginning of the new year.
  • my final date for the finished ms is feb 2018.
  • after that, it goes to line editing and copy editing, and gets looked over for M&S style.
  • then i get the final proofs some time summer 2018.
  • and as of fall 2018 i have advance reading copies.

so that’s the process. once you write it out, and see the timeline, it makes a bit more sense. sometimes people’s books need less editing, or they’re with a publisher that does fewer rounds of edits, and so the pub date, from announcing, is only a year or so away. my actual book will be done quite in advance of the pub date, but then there’s publicity to do, etc.

writing out that timeline also helps me, because i have a tendency to use the word “lucky” when talking about my writing, and once i type it all out, i realise how hard i’ve worked for this. i’ve worked my ass off. luck was me finding my wonderful agent by virtue of picking her off of the transatlantic website. the rest was a combination of me putting a nose to the grindstone, and being surrounded by powerful, generous editors who gave me their time and helped me shape up my ms.

first draft, eighth draft, tenth draft: the number doesn’t really matter. every step of this process has been ridiculously fun, and – in the absence of using the word “lucky” – i feel so happy to have found a team of amazing people who have helped me get to where i am.

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