Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Secretly I Wish I Were A Poet

A long time ago, before my reproductive organs were reproducing, I wrote an essay. It was about how I wasn't a mother, but I had my hands full with some neighborhood kids who had a knack for squeezing every bit of my free time by showing up at my house to hang out. (Jeeze, I hope you like run-on sentences, because that last one? Prize!) I wrote it for Segullah's Literary Journal. They kindly published it.

Then last summer, Kathy Soper my whip-smart Greek editor, asked if they could also include this essay for the follow up book to The Mother in Me.

I hesitated.

I am a blogger. To me, a blogger is different from a writer. I mean, technically a blogger can be a writer and a writer can be a blogger. But I think they are two different art forms--each requiring a set of skills for the craft. Take the public-and-instant feedback that comes with blogging versus the traditional critique and reviews of authorship. One is immediate self-relfection the other is refined. Maybe a writer is classical and blogger is contemporary? One born from the other, but different in function?

Follow me here.

I think blogger fits me better than writer on many levels, but mostly because once I write something, and it is published in hard copy, I never read it again. But re-reading my blog posts is like a dinner party with high school friends. Easy, amusingly awkward with just the touch of "ah-it's-in-the-past" attitude. I only spend maybe two hours on each post for my blog--it's fresh when it comes out. It's vulnerable, it's new, it might require touch-up editing or a follow-up post, but good crumbs it is hot!

Publishing something? It's like a complicated relationship which starts out on fire and smolders in the end. Cold to my soul by the time it sees ink. UNLESS it is really good. Really good. And how often does that happen? Writing is cultivated, it pulls at my patience, it requires my attention. It is an art that has been studied since the dawn of time. Dawn of time. Did I just come up with that phrase?

(If I were a writer this thought-sharing would be much more clear and concise.)

So this essay, called For the Welfare of Your Soul, was dead to me already. I hadn't read it since it hit the last draft and I knew that publishing it again--in a book no less--would cremate it. Send it into the wind of my written history in ashes.

I emailed Kathy, "I will write something new."

She emailed back, "This is what we want."

I replied, "It's not my best."

She replied, "I think it's one of your best."

This is Kathy, a woman who knows what she wants and takes no literary prisoners. For this reason I address her as Captain or Queen out of awesome respect. In return she calls me Quirky. Just to be cute.

"Ok, send me what you've got," she relented.

But no matter how hard I tried to write a new essay for the book, I couldn't.

I wrote another email back, "I even prayed for inspiration. Nothing."

In a few days the book space was filling up.

"We are not going with it Quirky," Queen told me honestly.

This came as a surprising relief.

A relief that only lasted a few weeks.

"We are going with it Quirky," the next email read.

As any good writer or blogger knows, one shouldn't turn down the chance to be published. Certainly not when your name is printed in the company of some of the best of your peers.

"Ok," I typed.

So the process started. The long haul to the publishers, the trail too long for me to touch. And today my book came in the mail. Dance with Them it is called. An anthology of personal essay. I flipped through the pages of essays I can't wait to read. Essays from friends and writers I enjoy.

And there on page 29 was my essay.

Should you decide to buy it, stop by and tell my essay I said hello?

It's been too long.

(Thanks Queen for your endurance.)

What have we got here?

I am c jane and I yadda yadda yadda sometimes.

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