Wednesday, May 21, 2014

from the Cackling Jackal Vault

From 2004-2009 I had a blog called Home-Schooled by a Cackling Jackal. I closed it down five years ago and started this blog for a variety of reasons. One reason was that I was tired of writing what I felt were becoming the same recycled posts about publishing. I felt like I was in a rut and wanted to write somewhere that felt like a fresh start. I wanted to separate myself more as a writer, something I felt was overshadowed by my role as a publisher. I did that here for a little while before, like a lot of bloggers around 2010, I let things sputter out. Part of that was the growing popularity of Facebook and Twitter. Another part was that I lost my passion for blogging, much like I lost my passion for publishing. Passion is a funny, fickle thing.

Another issue was that one of my main sources of "material" was getting to an age where I needed to be more careful and thoughtful what I wrote about him. At age 6 he asked that if he didn't approve beforehand the post or picture, he wanted me to only use his initial, G, instead of his name. Fair request. I also decided that I wasn't going to write anything about him that he might consider embarrassing. He's not embarrassed by what I wrote about him as a baby or preschooler, but he's 9 years old now & current anecdotes of a more personal nature feel off limits. So while G still makes the occasional appearance or mention here, it's not the same level as before.

Luckily we now have a dog named Loki who can't read and has plenty of bowel movements to write about. 4 times a day! And yes, we're feeding him the expensive, no filler dog food recommended by the vet. That little guy is just FULL of shit.

I too was starting to feel exposed and vulnerable even though I never wrote anything I wasn't comfortable sharing. It was more the position I found (put?) myself in. Despite what some people (who didn't know me) thought, I left a great deal of my life off the blog. But I suppose blogging about anything personal opens the door for some to consider you open season for whatever projected madness they come up. It started to get to me.

What I didn't recognize when I stopped blogging was how conducive it was to my own creative process. Writing regularly for an audience, no matter how casually or off-the-cuff, kept me in better writing shape. Writing just flowed better when I regularly blogged.

Anyhow, C.M. Mayo recently wrote about her 8 years blogging and included Cackling Jackal on her list of memorable blogs saying it was her "all-time fave." Even though the blog has been dormant for 5 years and for several years (until today) offline, people do still mention it to me.

So I thought it might be fun from time to time to repost here an old post from the good ole days of poetry blogging with a little commentary. I'll start with a short one:

Letter to Sam (1)
Yeah, I never painted a pumpkin with you either, etc. You see where this is going.

Recently I had a conversation about how opposites were once the same thing before they split and became opposites. (2) The goal is not to pick a side, but to balance the two, let the two's strengths offset one another's weaknesses. The person I was speaking with brought up the play Wicked as an example. You gave me the book as a gift years ago.(3) I never read it because it was a novel and I'm better than that.(4) Hearing this person describe it made me feel like I missed an important opportunity. Then I remembered that I still have the book and I still know how to read. It's never too late, Sam. (5)


(1) Sam is a good friend from college. I'm not sure why, but in October 2008 I posted a series of public "Letters" to him. Probably just to be creepy.

(2) I wish I remembered who I had this conversations with. My best guess is Anne Gorrick, but I could be totally wrong. If you're the person I had this conversation with, I apologize for not remembering the details.

(3) I still have, but have not read, Wicked. It's still on my to-read shelf. If I had it as an ebook, I probably would have read it by now. I don't like to hold fat books. My hands sometimes cramp when I do. I think I've fucked-up my hands with all the typing. These days I do hand stretches I learned in yoga.

(4) I read novels all the time now. I don't know what poetry-centric mindfuck I was living in, but I'm glad I left that place.

(5) I agree. It's never too late, Sam.

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