Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Jared Schickling : my (small press) writing day

Note to self: I have published eleven books of poetry, four chapbooks, and one book of pseudo-criticism since 2007.  Alongside these have edited, published, or otherwise helped produce dozens of volumes from other writers during that same time.

Under no (other) circumstances do I broadcast such stats.  Among non-poets, who account for most of my relationships, I don’t care to be crucified, which they would otherwise be wont to do.  Even among poets it’s not exactly impressive, or healthy, so who really does care, but remembering this is helpful for me in recalling what my writing day looks like.  I have no idea where to begin with such a convoluted notion.  Reminding myself that something must be going on doesn’t exactly bring relief to an otherwise consumed existence, but it does help keep the lights on.

It also helps dispel any illusion that writing, let alone poetry, is or should be what I was told it would be.  Across the board: I’ve heard no model for how to write that actually worked for me, except this one: One writes or one does not write.  It’s quite simple, as I’ve learned. 

The time it takes me to write a book has turned progressively shorter over the years, while the poem takes longer.  I am not sure what to make of it.  My standards for myself have turned increasingly severe.  I rarely send out work anymore.  Until it’s a book.  I suppose it takes me a year, then, to write something.

The morning begins with my family.  The day is given to my job.  Many nights are given to my job.  The evening is with my family.  About 9 pm, putting words on a screen may begin.  When it does, or when I force it to, I have to settle in.  Whole drafts vanish into this keyboard.  Revision.  Its earliest drafts are somewhere in a box.

I work the swing shift with Mollie, so weekends are for the kids.  I don’t sleep much.  I am very good at sleeping.

Unless I am reading.  Research.  Always reading.  The skeletons of my books are found in those broad margins.  So much for “reading,” then.  My suspicion is that each passing moment was a trick for poetry.  For language bigger than writing.  What failures I find there seem exquisite, at least in terms of the experience.

Jared Schickling’s latest book is The Mercury Poem (BlazeVOX, 2017). He lives in Western New York and edits Delete Press and The Mute Canary, publishers of poetry.

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