Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ramblings: poetry, unexpected; challenges of the book biz

Poets will know what I’m talking about. One minute you’re sitting there with a mountain of work. And a line or two just drops right in. It’s an assault on the spirit in a way, and there’s not much to be done about it. Then you’re off on that poetry tangent, the one that I call a creative seizure. Time ceases to be of consequence. I have burned dinner because of a poem.

Lately, there’s been a lot of commotion. I switched to a laptop for all my computing, keeping the desktop for our daughters. For some reason, the tech couldn’t get my email to switch over. I couldn’t get all my web site files to switch over. I’m trying to adjust to a tighter keyboard and I don't really miss the mouse that much. But I love the portability of the laptop. We moved my office to a bigger room, one with lots of windows and a view of the back yard. Much more creative environment. The claustrophobia I experienced in the smaller, windowless room (now a supply room) dissolved.

I realized yesterday I’m booked tightly with events, pretty much through early January, 2006. I’m hoping to take time off in December; if I don’t, I’ll be in trouble with my family. Received a review request from a distinguished writer from India; made my publisher and me feel good. Prepared the final outline and chapter-by-chapter summaries for my new book; wrote a few freelance pieces, got an assignment from a new editor who is very nice. Prepped news releases and the print newsletter for readers on my mail list; sent out the email newsletter. Skimmed the best-seller list and groaned.—Dracula, James Patterson and meeting people in heaven. Only McCullough’s nonfiction book saved me from going into an intellectual coma. I love that book.

So there it is. And sitting here, distracting me wildly, the poem I penned in the midst of it all.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Tour, the tensions, the times

After returning from the latest tour stops in Miami and Savannah, I confronted enough paperwork to drive a writer nuts. My email knew no bounds. The message center held greetings from a number of callers. In the middle of all this, I took a call from a person who is considering freelancing for a career. He seemed to expect me to deliver a course in Freelance 101 on the phone.

Assorted emails contain writings from various people who’ve visited my author Net site. If I critiqued them all, I’d be busy for a week and get absolutely nothing else done. Plus, if you do comment on a stranger’s work, s/he will never be satisfied unless you say something like, you are the greatest poet since Walt Whitman. Emily Dickinson is writhing with jealousy in her grave.

There were some bright spots too. The Barnes and Noble where I facilitate the Community Poetry Series invited me to be a featured author at their Tenth Anniversary Party. I had a good freelance month, with five new pieces soon-to-be released from various publications.

I'm looking forward to hosting a reading and presentation by Patricia Gray, director of Poetry at Noon at the Library of Congress. Patricia has a new book out, Rupture.

I don't know her personally, but she's swinging South on her own tour and I'm delighted to help introduce her work and LOC information session to our area poets and poetry lovers.

Book sales are strong in stores, but they’re lousy at amazon. I’m satisfied with the status at amazon, though. My publisher is a small press, and his profits and royalties from book sales there are dismal. The site crawls with used books, many of which are new and some of which were given free to reviewers who will, under no circumstances, review your book. If you’re not a top tier author, a discount site is of little benefit. Everywhere I go, I tell audiences, please do not buy my book at amazon.

Another bright spot is the retreat Dorothy Fletcher and I are planning. We found a gorgeous site for WORDSTREAM.

Thunder sounds in the background as I type.

The new book is going well; it looks like a late 2006 release. Otherwise, I’m wading through email and paperwork.

I wanted to ask the fellow on the phone, after he told me he’d decided to consider freelancing.

Are you sure you want to work that hard?