Wednesday, November 21, 2012

thanks and all

Yesterday morning in yoga the ongoing conversation was who's making what for Thanksgiving and the whole concept of gratitude. I was the only person in the room not hosting a dinner. At the time all that came to my mind was that I was grateful that I wasn't the person responsible for Thanksgiving. I didn't share everyone else's enthusiasm for the holiday and whoah, those ladies were really excited about their stuffings and pumpkin flans. I don't dislike the holiday, I like food, love turkey and pumpkin pie. It's just it's a lot of work, before, during and after for what feels like just a massive meal. I get excited for Christmas Eve, it's evening, there's music and decorations and drinks and hors d'oeuvres and a big ass tray of cookies and presents and the Santa tracker. That's a party! So I host that. I figured that what I'm grateful for is that there are others who want to do the things I'm mostly ambivalent for and I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I feel passionate about. Not everybody wants to cram a 12-foot tree into a room with a 10-foot ceiling. I get that. Different strokes! Your holiday preferences are valid too.

I felt pretty good coming to that conclusion but that didn't prepare me for how I was going to feel later that evening. A few weeks ago Didi Menéndez wrote to say that she was putting together a "Best of MiPOesias" and was going to use my poem "That's Not Butter" and asked if I had new work to send. I sent a new poem with audio. She sent a galley. I figured it would be out by the end of the year and didn't think much more about it.

What I wasn't expecting was this long, well-considered and in-depth review of my work: The Oracle and Reb Livingston by Jack Anders. To say that it made my day would be an understatement. Sometimes it feels like such an incredible feat just to get someone to read your poems, let alone make the effort to compellingly write about them.

I'm also grateful for the interview Julie Bloemeke did with me back in October regarding the Bibliomancy Oracle at the Best American Poetry blog.

While this year has been a pretty good one for me in many ways, I've struggled redefining my work and my role as a writer. I'm not calling myself an editor or publisher these days because I'm not doing those things now. Maybe again in the future, but not now.

Mostly this struggle has been getting over my numerous fears and self-criticisms that I build to such heights of dipshittery, sometimes my world comes to a complete halt and I can't manage to restart. I'd been beating myself up all year that I wasn't productive enough, that I was squandering my time. I wasn't used to having the time to spend on my own work. Maybe I felt more guilty instead of grateful for the opportunity. Maybe I thought I'd dash out a 300 page novel in 6 months and when that didn't happen I felt like a loser. I had it in my head that I maybe wrote 40-50 pages. In late September, I decided to print out everything I wrote in 2012. It was a 184 pages. That's not going to break any records and I'm certainly not going use all of it, but looking at that stack of papers made me realize that what I'd been telling myself wasn't true. I was working, which doesn't mean that I shouldn't work more or smarter, but clearly the mental shit I put myself through is totally stoopid and unnecessary. I don't do myself any favors when I'm this way.

It's almost December and my novel-esque book (not sure what to call it yet) is nowhere near finished. If you're interested in perusing some first drafts I've done along the way, I post some of them here. I have a 79 page draft that I'm hoping will reach 100 pages by the end of 2012. I certainly need another year, if not longer, to finish it. But I'm getting there and yes, it's really strange and there's always the very real possibility calling it a novel won't make many people interested and maybe it'll receive the dreaded cricket review. I can't worry about that now.

On this matter the Bibliomancy Oracle says:

Oblivion scattereth her poppy, and besides
it’s time to go inside now,
feed the aggressive pets, forgive our trespasses
for trespassing against us.


from “Not Beyond All Conjecture” by “John Ashbery”


  1. Oh, your honest is refreshing!
    "Dipshittery" --- what a brilliant word.

    Keep on,

  2. I do the same thing to myself about productivity, Reb. Looking forward to reading the review and the pages of your novelesque. Happy Thanksgiving!