Sunday, June 3, 2018

Genevieve Kaplan : My (small) (press) writing day, Spring 2018 version

Like many, I don’t really have “writing” days, just days where I think about writing and do some writing along with all the other things that need to happen in a day. Happily, my spring time tends to be a little more open, and I have at least a couple hours most afternoons to focus on my writing. Here’s how a typical spring writing day goes for me:

My alarm goes off at 7am and I

a) turn over to snuggle into Sean (my husband) and go back to sleep for another 20 minutes before I get out of bed, grab a quick shower, get dressed, and take some coffee to go.

b) get out of bed and pop in the shower, then head to my home-office for a few minutes of scribbling in my notebook  or editing on my computer. Sean brings me coffee while I’m writing. (Sean is also a writer, so I know that after he hands me some coffee he’s heading to his computer to write, too, which is both comforting and inspiring.)

Either way, I head out of the house at 8:15 to drive to my job at Claremont Graduate University, where I work with the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards. In spring, the books begin coming in—some of my morning at work is spent opening boxes of poetry books and logging submissions, so I get to flip through and read some poems too—so lovely. Anytime someone is willing to pay me to read a poem, I take advantage.

By 2pm, I return home and make some lunch before I

a) get my notebook or computer out for some writing time. I’m working on a new manuscript, and it’s in that sort of wonderful drafted-but-I-can-still-do-so-much space, which is great. I feel like whenever I open the file I’m about to make some positive and necessary changes, but also that when I don’t open the file and just let the manuscript settle in the background of whatever else I’m working on is time equally well-spent. There are a couple presses I have my eye on to send the manuscript to in June, so that self-imposed deadline is keeping me on track, and I know I’m not going to let the manuscript linger too long without my eye. 

b) open my computer and work on editing/formatting chapbooks. I release chapbooks every summer through my micro-press, the Toad Press International chapbook series, which means that spring is for formatting. Right now I’m struggling with formatting Emma Ramadan & Chris Clarke’s brilliant translation of Two-Step, an Oulipian play—that features simultaneous and/or overlapping voices—by Jacques Jouet and Olivier Salon. I’m close, I think, to getting it on the page the way it needs to be presented. Fingers-crossed.

c) continue developing the online poetry writing class I’ll be teaching this summer through the University of La Verne. The course development team I’m working with has pointed me such awesome resources, and they’ve created characters--including a Poet-Tree and an Edgar Allen Poe-etry Cat—to populate my lessons and keep things light-hearted. I like to throw a lot of weird stuff at students early on, so I really want the class site to be a comfortable space for students to explore and experiment with poetic possibilities.

d) get distracted looking at pictures of adoptable cats at the Friends of Upland Animal Shelter. A cat or two makes a writing afternoon a little better, and wondering about what kitties might be looking for a home with me and Sean is always in the back of my mind.

e) some combination of the above

Between 5 and 6pm, I try to stop whatever afternoon work I’ve been up to. Having a relatively open schedule in spring has allowed me to try to keep more usual hours for writing, and I’ve been making an effort to keep my evenings free and behave like a normal (non-writer) person.  So, in the evenings, there’s dinner, Jazzercise, a walk or tv, and then settling into bed with a book. Right now I’m reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, which is paced like a choose-your-own-adventure, but, as I keep telling Sean, I never get to choose, and Our Hero continually makes some poor decisions.

Genevieve Kaplan is the author of In the ice house (Red Hen Press), winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s poetry publication prize, and three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared recently in New American Writing, Copper Nickel, and The Laurel Review. She lives in southern California. Find her online at .

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