Thursday, August 16, 2018

NO NEED TO CRY: ONE POET'S WRITING DAY by stephanie roberts

Before I rise from bed, I see a waterfall, impregnated by spring melt, two hours from cell tower reception, at the end of a one hour canoe trip and four kilometre hike, with bear canister and a double IPA reward, on a lake in the Mauricie.

The Nashville Review has sent a rejection. My third from them, but first signed with the editor's name—hoping I will submit in the future (crowned with exclamation mark).

Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. – Cadet Maxim

Morning begins with a double espresso long. The only coffee I have all day. I once tried to make a box mix cake before I'd had my coffee and managed to incorrectly measure two of the three ingredients, even though odds are, I could come into your kitchen this minute and make a cake using whatever I can find in fridge and pantry without measuring. No serious anything is attempted around here without this first sacrament.

Waiting for the brew, I water roses, lilies, honeysuckle vine, documenting the seasonal evolution of backyard horticulture for the Instagram (@ringtales). A dotted flutter alights among the Rudbeckia. On closer examination, I see a butterfly with blue iridescence unlike any I've seen in North America. I hold my breath taking pictures; I want it wings up and wings out.

I hope if you are someone who blushing (or boldly!) introduces yourself as a poet that you won't care overly about what I say next. Let the following be amuse-bouche. The way I watch Donnie Yen in Legend of the Fist for pure hand-clapping pleasure with no aspiration whatsoever to better my kung fu.

A year ago this would've been brief. Coffee. Anarchy. Lunch. Anarchy. C'est tout! However, last year, under the buttery goodness of success, my publications increased to a point that the imposition of system became a necessity for sanity and continued efficacy.

Whatever talent I have, I viagra with diligent effort. I collect research, deal with the business of getting published, generate new work, and revise and edit previous work, in varying combination, from 9:30ish am to 3:00pm Monday through Saturday. I've kept a full work day Christmas day for the last three years. I only purple my lips with envy over Jack Gilbert's writing environment. Let me live half-starved in the Greek countryside, in love, fucking the square-shouldered consenting citizenry or be Robert Lax.

I start work by resisting the compulsion to edit and post pictures of what turned out to be locally extinct female Karner Blue butterfly. I get another rejection notification that speaks of the refused offering in such glowing terms that I am almost as happy as if it were an acceptance. They lauded work that I'd grown uncertain about. The praises encourage me to keep faithful in sharing them.

10:00 AM, I spend almost an hour writing my mentor whom I've neglected to respond to in over a month. Devilled by obligation and desire every day, for a month, I wrote and re-wrote his name in my bitch-i-wish-you-would list.

12:30 PM, press send on a submission to a poetry contest. I continue writing until I'm lightheaded—my belly burns inside out and full of wasps. Leftover pizza will be my first solid food of the day. After lunch I check the mail—e and snail. There's a complaint from the city giving me 48 hours to cut the long grass (purple loosestrife) ornamenting the ditch keeping the Kitchisssippi River from running through my basement.

Half an hour later, I'm back at work and reminded of the tweet by @tashaaaaaaa, reposted by @amork, that said I wish I knew how to not eat my entire lunch in 10 minutes. I don't post any reply (she wouldn't be able to see it anyway @ringtales) but #relate.

I concentrate administrative duties, that take up half my time, at the beginning of the week and early in the day to increase the probability of true songs and my heart on key for the remainder. But, opportunities often arise that require flexibility in executing the daily and weekly agendas.

1:24 PM, I get an acceptance from a submission sent eight and a half months ago. I created a form letter which I personalize to each acceptance. Once there's agreement, I give immediate notification to any other press where the work was submitted. If I get an acceptance late in the day I give my notifications the following morning.

This process has on occasion taken almost an hour. It depends on how aggressively I've submitted the accepted poems. Publications that use Submittable are a godsend, however, once in a while a press will be closed to notes. Unless I've written in my notebook how or to what email address simultaneous submissions are to be given, this can take some detective work, case in point York Literary Review—no contact page, no place to leave notes in Submittable, no email addresses associated with their masthead, and the review's Twitter account closed to direct messages. I eventually found a name associated with the press on Twitter and left a notification in his direct messages even though it was obvious that his Twitter account was seldom used. I try.

I once had a journal, I respect and aspire to, send acceptance for work that had already been accepted elsewhere. I was fucking mortified. I checked, and sure enough, two weeks prior I'd left a notification removing the work from consideration. When I shared this with the editor, I didn't get any response back.

By 2:33 PM, after working on the edits for a submission due end of month, I'm beginning to wane. This is where civilized cultures inserted the siesta. Today, I opt to recharge ye olde metaphor machine with a quick and rare walk outside.

I'm creating new work for a specific call, I type SOON in bold red Helvetica 54pt, on the top of the page so that even with the document closed I easily apprehend its imperative nature. I prefer not to put a submission together and submit it on the same day. Sleeping on shit is a pivotal component of my creative process. Veritably, it may be the creative process. Tomorrow, I'll look over my notes on the press, give the manuscript a fresh listen and if nothing rings off or untrue, and I see a river singing in the voice of ocean longing, then I press send.

3:45 PM, at this point I'm knackered. I know from bitter experience to continue is the height of foolishness; any submission I send will have errors. I no longer have the capability to catch mistakes, make connections, or even compose correspondences. I wrap-up by entering notes and reminders in the calendar book and four journals that organize the literary carnival of me. I colour code everything using Japanese gel pens and a Xi Jinping sized army of Post-It Notes because I have the world's lousiest short term memory but a formidable visual memory. Pressing obligations get sharpied on the inside of my left wrist like I'm a ten year-old or semi-responsible drunk.

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. – Debbie Millman

I have spent the day almost in complete silence. Alexa, play La Vida Es Un Carnival.

stephanie roberts has work featured or forthcoming, this year, in almost four dozen periodicals and anthologies. Her poetry has appeared with Verse Daily, Atlanta Review, FLAPPERHOUSE, The Stockholm Review of Literature, L'Éphémère Review, Crannóg Magazine, The /tƐmz/ Review, and {isacoustic*}. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee and recent winner of the Silver Needle Press Poem of the Week Contest, she was born in Central America, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and is a long time inhabitant of la belle Quebéc. She finished writing this on Sunday her day off. SoundCloud.

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